Preschool Parenting Class: The Comparison Game

Thank you for joining us at parentministry.net for our first online parenting class for Preschool! We are going to talk about a topic that every parent deals with at some point. This month’s subject is how to handle playing the comparison game with others.

Due to some medical issues, my son suffered from delayed speech. When he was two years old, he was completely nonverbal. We saw doctors, had multiple tests run and began private therapy. The prognosis was good: he would talk, but his speech would be delayed and there was no real timeframe for when it would begin and how it would progress. The good news was that he would talk, but that was sometimes hard to remember. We went through a time that it seemed like we were surrounded by chatterbox children. At preschool, church, the park, everywhere we went, kids were talking up a storm, but our son was silent. He finally began talking at the age of three, but it was a very slow process. We knew we were doing everything we could to help him, but we couldn’t help to wonder if it was enough. It was hard to hear other families able to talk with their kids when we could not.

It is such an easy trap to fall into. Everyday we are in contact with other people. If you are anything like me, your children come up in conversation all the time. We like to check in with each other and brag on our kids! Harmless comments like “Our baby slept through the night at 3 months old!” “Hannah is already potty trained and it only took three days!” “We already have a college fund set up for John!”…who is four by the way, suddenly these comments aren’t so harmless. Now, we are doubting every parental choice we’ve ever made and wondering why our child isn’t like theirs.

Comparisons are so easy to make. They may even seem harmless. We measure progress in any area of life by checking out how we compare. Of course we don’t really think less of our child just because they aren’t just like our friends children! However, playing the comparison game can be harmful for you and your child.

It is natural for us to look for a frame of reference when it comes to raising children. It is such a relief to find parents who are going through the same thing you are. On the flip side, if you find yourself comparing your situation to someone who seems to have it all together or is doing it better than your family, it can be very discouraging. Playing the comparing game puts pressure on yourself as a parent and on your child to perform for the wrong reasons.

We are encouraged to watch for any problems or delays and to get help if we need it. No wonder we are constantly wondering what is “normal”! The truth is that children develop at different rates. We need to be able to celebrate achievements and milestones, regardless of how and when they may happen. They have different strengths, talents and abilities. As parents it is our job to help them develop what is uniquely theirs. Research shows as long as your child is reaching milestones within a normal range, how quickly they reach them has no real bearing on later skills.

Maybe you also compare yourself to that perfect parent. You know the one…they seem to have it all together while you are barely holding on. It can make you feel defeated and drained. Instead, why not focus on what you do well. We all have things we are good at!

Psalm 139:13-14 says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

How wonderful it is to know that God purposely created each of us to be unique and we all know that God doesn’t make mistakes!

Young children believe what they hear. Don’t let your child hear you comparing them. By doing so, you imply that you wish your child was different. Instead we should praise them for what they are doing, regardless of where their skills may fall. Our kids are growing up in a society that tells them who to be and how to act. We want to be able to raise children who are confident in who they are and what they can do. That starts at home by enjoying your child and their abilities.

Later this month be watching out for our next online class email. We will dive into the different areas that we compare our experiences with those of others and how to avoid those traps. We will examine how to celebrate our kids for who they are and what they do.