Unintentional Joy Killer

By: Zaid Mohammad

EACH child, like everyone else, is different and unique in their own way. Parents have no right to compare one with the other.

Unfortunately, while we don’t mean to do so, comparisons do happen unintentionally. Hence, we should be more careful in our interactions with our children.

Let’s begin with ourselves. 

Have you unintentionally compared yourself to others? I know I’m guilty of this. It’s so easy to give in to the temptation of comparing our job, house or car with others. The same is true with children.

Parents unintentionally compare their children’s lack of achievement with another who is more successful.

We all know how painful and heartbreaking this is. Almost always, such comparisons lead to resentment and anger. Nothing positive is achieved being doing this and relations may be damaged.

“Comparison is the thief of joy,” Theodore Roosevelt once said.

This is still true today. With the advent of social media, it has become easier to get into the comparison trap.

Mental health experts have warned society about such danger and how social media comparison can make us unhappy. We forget that people only share what they want us to see. No one shares their pain and hardship.

By comparing ourselves to others, we’re effectively taking our happiness away. We’re forgetting all the good things we have, while longing for those we don’t. Can you see now how comparison is a thief of joy?

Let Them Thrive

Let’s bring a comparison into the context of our family. It can be devastating, especially to our children. One happy moment can be utterly ruined by one careless word of comparison.

Fortunately, we can turn the situation into positive action. If we really must “compare,” a better strategy is to compare our children’s current performance versus their previous one. This will not only motivate them to do better, it will also enable the tracking of their progress.

If this is done in a loving manner, other benefits will follow. This, I have personally experienced with our children.

My eldest used to struggle with his grades during the fourth and fifth years of primary school. We took note of his grades and challenged him to do just a notch better the next time.

For example, if he scored 70s in his Mathematics, then we’d ask him to target 80s the next time.

We avoided the urge to compare his grades with his peers or close relatives whom we knew were doing well.

True enough, his grades started to show improvements as the months went by. By the time he was in Year 6, he was scoring 90s in his Mathematics.

Today, he’s already working as an actuarial scientist — a heavily mathematical field.

It’s a great lesson to let them live their own life under a certain set of agreed conditions and rules. We just need to watch them thrive under our loving guidance while providing them with a lot of attention and support.

Let’s celebrate their uniqueness, strengths and weaknesses. Stop killing their joy by unfairly comparing our children with others, albeit unintentionally.

Source: ZaidMohamad.com

About the author: Zaid Mohamad is the bestselling author of Smart Parents, Brighter Kids and Smart Parents, Richer Kids and writes for weekly column in The New Sunday Times. Zaid Mohamad holds an honours degree in Finance from University of Bridgeport and graduated with Summa Cum Laude (the highest honor level).


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