My daughter walked at 9 ½ months. It was crazy. She just skipped crawling, got up one day and started toddling around. It freaked everyone out including her pediatrician! After hearing stories from other moms about how their children didn’t walk until they were 11 months, 12 months and beyond, I was convinced that my little girl was a stone cold genius. I mean she walked before ALL of her peers!
So imagine my surprise in Pre-K when her classmates colored circles around her. Every 4 year old managed to color inside the lines beautifully, except for mine who just scribbled colorful scratchy lines on her pictures. I was confused. Was my daughter a genius or was she slow? I mean her coloring was the WORST of all her classmates!
It didn’t take me long to realize that I’d fallen into the dangerous trap that awaits every new mother. I’d fallen into the comparison trap – a never ending game of “my kid is smarter,better, prettier than your kid.”
Over the years, I’ve realized that the comparison trap is bad news. It harms your child and it hurts you as a parent. While it seems natural to compare your child’s every move with their peers, it can ultimately cause you to:
Set up your child for self-esteem issues. Comparing children to others teaches them that they are in competition with others. They’ll feel great when they’re on top in the comparison, but imagine how they’ll feel when they come up as the “loser.”
Miss the value in your child’s individuality. So your child is a slow runner and they sing off key. These aren’t shortcomings or failures. They are a part of your child’s unique identity. Those quirks are a part of what makes them special.
Live vicariously through your child. When you are so focused on comparing your child’s development to the development of other children, you lose yourself. This is unhealthy on so many levels. It’s important to help your child do his or her best, but don’t become some consumed in their little world that you lose your world.
Now I try to celebrate my daughter’s accomplishments and I celebrate the areas where she falls short. I always let her know that both her successes and her challenges are all a part of her unique one-of-a kind package. She is the best little person that she can be, and that’s all the comparison that I need.
Moms, do you ever find yourself falling into the comparison trap?
Words: Yolanda Darville
Yolanda Darville is a mom, writer, communications strategist and blogger focusing on philanthropy and empowering women. Learn more about her on her blog www.bahamamommyinc.com .