“He runs better than you do,” “When he was your age, your brother used to play the violin.” Although they have no ulterior motives, parents often compare their children with other children or their siblings. Some families think that their children are much better than other children, and show this by their actions (“My son can do anything!”). Instead of encouraging the children, this behavior places great pressure on them. Even the smallest mistake they make becomes a disaster.
Some families, on the other hand, criticize constantly (“Your sister swims better than you do”) without realizing that they are trapping their children with self-justifying negative statements. These children are easily influenced by the thoughts and judgments of their parents, and turn into symbols of failure in order to conform to their parents’ conception of themselves!
Positive or negative, such comparisons are always poisonous. They stop the child from developing its own identity. Children already have the tendency to compare themselves with others, and especially with their siblings, and to define themselves, who they are, through these comparisons. Having the parents support this behavior will make the situation even more complicated.
In such a situation, we need to focus on ourselves, and think about why we feel the need to compare our children with others. This feeling can sometimes be the reflection of anger (usually hidden in the subconscious) we feel toward our child, due some unhappiness when our child was very young, or to a difficult birth. When saying that one child is not as good as its sibling, we must keep in mind that we are not the same parent to each one of our children, and that they are also not replicas of each other. We must not forget that by focusing on their needs arising from their differences instead of their successes, we can be far more helpful to them.
Taken and translated from “Psychologies, September