Competitiveness is ingrained in us as humans, and it’s nearly impossible to succeed in life without a little healthy competition. However, comparing how your child is progressing versus another can be a toxic habit that will become detrimental to both you and your child. While it is usually common with first-time parents, it can sometimes become a lifelong habit that can affect your child’s sense of self and self-esteem.
When your child is a baby, there are daily changes, developments and milestones in their speech, movement and brain activity. Often these daily changes can go unnoticed without you worrying too much about their significant milestones. But then you might be at your mother’s group or the park, and hear that another baby is more advanced or ahead of yours. And that gets you thinking…
While this can sometimes cause you to compare, compete or feel disappointed in your parenting, you have to remember that you have no control over this. Babies all develop and reach milestones in their own time.
If your baby is hitting milestones at a reasonable rate, that should be your focus. Your baby is developing at their own pace, and there’s nothing you can do to speed it up – and you shouldn’t. Let your baby make progress on their own and celebrate every achievement, no matter how big or small. Putting the focus back on your baby will make the comparisons disappear, and will make you happier to see your child advance.
Remember that comparisons are normal. However, instead of comparing against other babies you know, you should compare against averages to chart your child’s progression. If you still feel insecure, consider talking to your paediatrician or nurse; their professional opinion on how your child is progressing is more valuable than a mum you meet at the park.
Social media comparisons
Social media can be the bane of your existence; you start scrolling and you suddenly see a YouTube family who (appear to) have a perfect life and a perfectly behaved baby. If your children are pushing you to the edge on the particular day you happen to stumble upon this picture-perfect family, it can cause you to compare and feel like you’re failing as a parent. In those moments, you have to remind yourself that reality isn’t portrayed on social media and often, the families who have the ‘perfect kids’ and the curated feeds are struggling just as much as the rest of us.
Remember that social media is a highlights reel. Just like you wouldn’t post a picture of your kids misbehaving, they won’t either, and there’s no point in trying to compete or compare.
On the other hand, you might be the one who is constantly competing with others based on your child’s achievements. Once you become aware of it, do your best to try and stop. Making your child compete with other children can negatively impact their development and their relationship with others.
Never let your child know you’re comparing or competing; all they need to know is that you’re supporting their development. Competition and comparisons are inherently human, but don’t let them impact your parenting. Be proud of your child for exactly who and where they are, and they’ll be better for it!