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How to Help Children Stop Comparing Themselves to Others

kids comparing themselves

Comparisons frequently lead to feelings of stress and anxiety. Especially for children, it takes away the focus from self-development and leads them towards negative emotions such as jealousy, hatred, and sometimes an inferiority complex.

Hence, it becomes imperative for parents and teachers to inculcate such values in children that they stop comparing themselves with others.

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Comparisons are all around

Children tend to compare themselves leading to peer pressure. The feeling of have and have nots creeps in especially when they are surrounded by other kids in their neighbourhood and school coming from a variety of economic backgrounds.

The comparison usually begins with the brand of clothes, stationery, type of bag, water bottle or tiffin they carry to as far as the brand of smartphones or tablets or even laptops kids possess. This comparison though does not stop at material possessions.

The constant comparison of intelligence in the form of “marks”, is propagated by the parents themselves in most cases. Forms of comparisons frequently meander into looks, friend circles, popularity, and whatnot. The world of comparisons is endless. It is a dark hole which if one enters knows no end and only leads to misery, suffering, and toxicity.

Here are some techniques parents and teachers can follow to help children stop comparing themselves to others.

  1. Set an example
  2. The first lesson in comparison children learn from their parents. Parents need to stop comparing their children with other kids. When you compare them with their peers, you are instilling the comparison paradigm in their psyche.

    They get the message that this is how it is supposed to be. Parents must take conscious care to not compare their kids with their peers, or anyone else. Prepare them to compare themselves with their self and benchmark their growth today to what they were yesterday, not to someone else.

    For example, if they scored 70% last term and 80% this term, appreciate them for improving on bettering their past self, and not because they scored more than your close friend’s child.

  3. Celebrate the journey, not the outcome
  4. One of the root causes of comparison is that we tend to overemphasize outcomes and not the process. Celebrate the process and the journey that your child goes through in any field, academic, sports, or personal matters. Avoid overstating the outcome.

    Celebrate the learning more than the marks they score, celebrate the fun of playing games more than who won or lost, celebrate the effort they put into their relationships and the efforts they take to make their relationships better more than how popular they are.

    Schools have a significant role to play here by not “ranking” children based on marks, or performance in any other task or activities. Progress of the kids must be benchmarked with the evolution of their previous self, and not based on their other peers.

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  5. Avoid focusing on the non-controllable
  6. Children are extremely conscious about looks, especially when they are in the adolescent stage and growing at an extremely fast pace. Looks and appearance suddenly assume importance and lead to one of the most significant points of comparison among kids.

    Looks and appearance are largely uncontrollable and often lead to a sense of inferiority among children. Children who perceive themselves as “less attractive” frequently feel inferior to their “more attractive” peers and lack self-confidence. Although difficult, the way to avoid this is to avoid focusing on this uncontrollable right from early growing-up days.

    Avoid appreciating your kids, or for that matter anyone else on how good they looked. Appreciate them more on their deeds rather than things such as “looks” which they may have very limited control over. Focus on higher virtues and values which are more important than superficial beauty.

  7. Promote Self Love
  8. Indulge your kids in the practice of self-love right from an early stage. Build in them a sense of gratitude toward what they already have, instead of looking for things they do not. Highlight their strong points and appreciate them more on those values. Build their confidence around those values.

    For example, one of the activities they can do is to maintain a gratitude journal where they note down all the good things, they have in life for which they are thankful. Encourage them to not seek outward acceptance or appreciation for their self-validation. The benchmark for achievement should be their appraisal of their self.

  9. Set Personal Goals
  10. Comparison is not all bad as long as it is taken constructively. Inculcate the habit in kids that compare if they may, they must compare constructively and learn from those comparisons, set personal improvement goals based on the same, track progress, and strive to achieve those goals.

    Setting personal improvement goals and achieving them generates a positive outlook towards comparison. Any comparison that does not lead to a personal improvement goal should be discouraged. This makes the very act of comparison positive and constructive for kids.

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EuroSchool follows a value-based education system that promotes values that children focus on and eliminates toxic comparisons that lead to peer pressure. The classroom and evaluation system also promotes the philosophy of self-improvement and growth and not that of peer comparison and competitiveness. As a result, the campus environment at EuroSchool is more collaborative, positive, and growth-oriented which leads to a positive mindset and holistic development of our students.

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