There is a tendency to compare your teen on a variety of levels. You may try to compare them to yourself when you were their age. You may also try comparing them to the children of your friends or family members. You may also compare them to classmates, siblings, etc. As a parent, you only want the best for your child and may only draw comparisons to see them succeed. However, each child is an individual. They are unique in their own right, and it is so unfair to compare them to anyone because they should be their own person. Below are 5 ways that comparing them to others can actually hinder their success.
1. Comparing your teen may make them feel inferior
I’m not sure if you remember or not, but life as a teen is challenging. It is a time where you question yourself constantly. Am I doing the right thing? I don’t think I can get this right? Why don’t I look like..? Why can’t I have what ..has? And the list goes on. Knowing this, comparing your teen to someone else or asking them ”why can’t they be like such and such” can really make things worse for them. It may actually make them question if you feel they are “good enough” for the task. Watch your approach. It can make a world of difference.
2. Comparing your teen may set unrealistic expectations for them
While setting healthy expectations is a strong parenting skill, comparing them to others may make them feel that they cannot live up to your standards of success. Think about this, does your teen possess certain skills and abilities to reach certain levels? If not, creating expectations based on skills they don’t have can help to set your child up for failure. We all believe in the saying that “you can do anything you set your mind to”, however, we also should be realistic. For example, if you know your child cannot carry a tune, don’t expect them to be the next “American Idol.” While the example given is a bit facetious, you get the idea. Keep your expectations within limits.
3. Comparing your teen may create unhealthy rivalry between them and the comparison source
Rivalry has led to many great things in this world. There is nothing like a healthy competition to bring out the best in people. However, when you compare your teen to others, you run the risk of creating an unhealthy rivalry that can do more damage than good. Sometimes in order for teens to “win”, they can place themselves in unhealthy or compromising situations. Think of the athletes who take enhancement drugs or the other dangerous ways that young people have tried to prove that they are better than someone else. Make sure they understand the difference in healthy rivalry and making poor choices.
4. Comparing your teen may redirect them away from developing their true gifts
Each individual is gifted in their own unique way. They have their own talents and deserve the opportunity to develop them. Instead of encouraging your teen to be like the next person, encourage them to develop and grow their own gifts. Teach them how to be proud of their own abilities and how they can nurture those talents for their future.
5. Comparing your teen may cause ongoing friction between you and them
Each parent wants the best for their child. Nothing is wrong with encouraging and nudging them to grow and develop into a prosperous young adult. However, be careful of how you push your young person. You don’t want to create ongoing friction because what you interpret as advancement, they interpret as they are never going to be good enough for you. It’s all in how they translate your actions. That is why it is so important to communicate regularly with your teen. Explain your reasons for why you do push them hard and what you do expect. The more you communicate, the better you and your teen will understand one another.