I’ve always been average in studies, but when compared to my siblings, I’m considered incompetent.
My elder sister aced all her exams and bagged first, or if not, the second position in her class. Then there’s my younger sister, who brought home one trophy after another, be it an award for winning a debate competition, or one for hosting a ceremony. Class monitor, extra-curricular activities, and good grades; they excelled at everything. While I wasn’t good at anything.
Even our school teachers had a hard time grasping the fact that we were siblings. Our first day in biology class my teacher sensed a familiarity with my face and asked me if I was so-and-so’s sister. I responded in affirmation. She then asked me my grades and gave an unexpectedly weird look at my answer, because my grades were significantly lower than what my elder sister used to score.
From then onwards, every time she asked me a question in class -she made sure to question me in every single class- and I gave a partially right answer, she’d tell me how my sister always gave the best answer. “Why can’t you be more like your sister?” Wow! Thank you, that motivated me so very much.
In reality, this stumped my interest in her subject so much so that I stopped answering questions at all. What she didn’t realize was that not everybody is good at the same thing and in this case biology.
Comparing your child to others, be it their siblings, friends or cousins, is something that is so common but actually does more harm than good.
The first thing our parents ask after we tell them our grade in a class test, is what grade did Aunty Tina’s daughter’s neighbor’s uncles’ sister’s nephew get? And why did we get one mark less than him/her?
What adults don’t realize is that every child is born different; with different abilities, aptitudes, and talents. Each child has his own individuality and uniqueness. You can’t expect two children to be the same and give you similar results, despite having the same education and similar environment at home. THEY ARE DIFFERENT.
They have different strengths that develop at different rates. There is nothing wrong with developing the talents that you want in your children, but first see what is it that they are good at, and what do they enjoy doing. Help them identify their interests and explore their talents and then polish those talents even if it’s something you’re not a fan of.
When children are compared, it breaks their confidence and shatters their self-esteem, making them feel worthless. It increases their anxiety and reduces their motivation. The child begins to see himself/herself as a failure at everything and becomes blinded to even the things that he/she is good at. This feeling settles in and deteriorates growth while damaging an entire personality.
Instead of focusing on what our children can’t do, we should be focusing on what they can do, and that will be different for every child. Focus on their positives, embrace their individual strengths and weaknesses. Encourage them constantly.
This will boost their confidence and make it easier for them to accept themselves for who they are.