April 1, 2020

How to Not Compare Your Children

It was ten minutes into my daughters swim class when it hit me: by the time she was one I had exposed her to quite a few things already. She had already taken a swimming class. She was in daycare and was learning to walk and knew her way around a playground. She was in music classes. My son? Nada. Poor second kid, I thought. He really is getting the short end of the stick. Thus launched a game of comparisons in my head that is hard to stop. Is the first child better off because you’ve had more time to dedicate to them? In my case, I went back to work when my daughter was 3 months old so she went to daycare. My son has benefited from me working part time and has gotten much more one on one time with me than my daughter did in her first year. Sadly, this has not translated into me exposing him to more of the world outside of the house.

What do you do when your first had advanced gross motor skills by the time she was one and your second born still has a funky crawl? What do you do when your first born spoke in full sentences at 10 months and your second born babbles well into his first year? Its hard not to compare when they are this young, and presumably harder as they get older and the things to compare mean much more than walking or crawling.

For example: we threw our daughter a big first birthday party with all her little baby friends, and at the party presented her with her first ever chocolate cupcake. She looked at it, licked her lips, and dug in. She demolished that cupcake. We were so proud. We did not throw our son a big party for his first birthday party but just had family over. We did present him with his first ever chocolate cupcake. He looked at it, poked it, and proceeded to throw it on the ground. We were so disappointed. And this was only about cake!

Realizing each kids’ strengths and weaknesses is what helps cease this comparison game.  The last thing you want is to have your kids know that you are comparing them! This leads to bad memories of sibling rivalry and extreme competitiveness and resentment among everyone. Even saying something as innocuous as “your sister is eating all her broccoli- why aren’t you?” can have lasting damage to their psyches. I have to remind my husband all the time to not compare them (at least not out loud in front of them) because it is so tempting to do. 

In order to not compare, I have to repeat a stop comparing mantra to myself.  It hasn’t helped much yet, but I’m hopeful one day it will kick in.