• Dr Shishir Palsapure

To compare or not to?

We cite examples to our children intending they would model the ideal person. Does it really happen?


We as parents have been guilty of comparing our child to another child at some point in time. Our intentions are clear, there's something desirable in the other child, and we want to bring it to the notice of our child and want him to inculcate that quality.


Let's examine if this actually works. Imagine yourself that you made dinner for your spouse with a lot of love and care. Then your spouse points out, hey look at your friend. What wonderful cook she is. Why can't you cook like her? Or you came home with a pay cheque, and your spouse says, hey look at your colleague, he earns twice as much. Why can't you too? What would be your natural intention to do? Work harder? Learn a skill? Or you would feel insulted, and have self doubt, and feel unappreciated? Children are much more sensitive, and do not have the cognitive abilities to think of the other side of the story, for instance, that your intention is to help them learn a new method of learning, playing or performing. As adults, we might have a more adaptive reaction to a comparison, but children and adolescents might not. They are more likely to go into a downward spiral of self doubt, hatred, jealousy, anger, hurt and poor performance/behaviour.

Here is what to do instead:


1. Encourage children by showing a deep, genuine conviction in their ability to do better.

2. Teach them a new skill, demonstrate yourself or with other media.

3. Accept them as human beings unconditionally when they perform badly.

4. Aim at winning cooperation from them.

5. Aim at making studies or activities interesting and not compulsory.

6. Learn to manage your anger

7. One more time. ENCOURAGE. It never backfires.


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