Last week, one of my students ask me ‘Sir, I think my mother doesn’t love me’ and she did not complete her sentence. I looked at her and asked, ‘Dear, what makes you think your parents don’t love you? At first, she didn’t reply but then ‘Sir, she always compared me with my younger brother and another cousin who is older than me….. No matter what I do, she always praises them more than me….. ever in her appreciation, I can feel her criticism…. Sometimes I feel that I am not good for anything.’ At that moment, other students entered the room, and the class commenced. She seems quite relaxed after our talk as she takes out whatever puzzling her mind. However, the question that starts puzzling me after that conversation with my students is ‘why parents compare their kids with someone else or even their own siblings? Does this comparison do any good and more harm to their kid’s personality development?
According to Science Daily, A new study from BYU found that parents’ beliefs about their children and the comparisons they make may cause developmental barriers in kids. The study, published Friday in the Journal of Family Psychology, focused on siblings and academic achievement. Researcher Alex Jensen highlights while discussing his study outcomes that ‘majority of parents thought that the firstborn was better, although on average, siblings’ achievement was pretty similar.’ Achievement comparison among siblings is common, especially in Asia and Europe. Countries like India and Pakistan, kids who have younger siblings, are grown up with this traumatic and critical experience. The most common grounds on which kids usually compared with other children are the kid’s school performance their final grades. According to Alex Jensen ‘nowadays teen’s future report card grades were influenced by their parents’ beliefs as to which child was smarter, even though these parental beliefs weren’t based on past grades.’
Another parental phenomenon which is common, nowadays, in most homes is that ‘daughters are more academically competent than sons, and, at least in terms of grades, that seems to be true.’ The question is, how would it impact the child’s personality development when he/she compared with others and judged based on that comparison? According to BTP, comparing a child with others will only decline their performance instead of improving it. Following are the six negatives effects of comparing kids with others:
- Overwhelming Stress
A child that is compared to other kids is overwhelmingly stressed. Comparison causes anxiety and even insomnia. When a child performs poorly, comparing him or her to others is not the answer. Try to find out what went wrong and happily devise a new plan together instead.
- Self-Esteem Killer
Children who are always compared to other kids will gradually start to believe that they are inferior to others. Instead of trying to become better, many children will just quit and become too afraid to try new things.
- Damaged Self-Worth
“Despite his efforts, if he still gets to hear that he needs to follow the other child to perform well, this breaks his confidence,” the site explained. “The ‘good for nothing’ starts to settle in.”
- Social Anxiety
Because the child already believes that he is inferior and a ‘good for nothing’ person, he or she will become too shy to socialise with other people thinking that he has nothing to be proud of.
- Withdrawing from Parents
Children who are constantly compared by their parents to other kids will gradually withdraw themselves from the family. These children withdraw because they do not want to cause their parents’ further disappointments and hurt.
- Hatred and Loathing
Children might start concealing secret, hate and reluctance towards other children whenever they are constantly being compared to. “This may lead him to behave aggressively, pick fights, tease and even hit each other,” the article shared.
There are many other ways, from which parents can encourage and boost their children intellectual and academic performance — for example, appreciating and rewarding approach where parents do not benchmark their kids’ growth through grades instead through the efforts they made. No matter how good or bad they perform in their studies or any extracurricular or sports activity always appreciates their efforts and achievements instead of comparing their results with others. No one is equal and so their abilities and strengths. Albert Einstein once said ‘Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is STUPID’.
Good Luck Parents 😊