Jump to content

Strategies for not comparing my child to others


  • Please log in to reply
32 replies to this topic

#1 Deep thought

Posted 23 September 2019 - 10:25 AM

I find myself getting hung up on my 4.5yr olds development of academic skills. This particularly happens after socialising with precocious much younger child who seems far advanced by comparison.

I'm no tiger Mum, and in theory a fan of investigative play based learning and kids just being kids... in practise I was highly competitive in the academic arena, a high achiever, and probs have a lot of baggage about academic achievement in general. I think me comparing him to some kids who are clearly quite advanced is my competitiveness coming outand seeing his achievements as reflecting on me. I don't want this!

I really don't want to be feeling anxious and disappointed in my son for not being some kind of prodigy- he's bright and sunny, very kind, socialises well, so many positives! Also I love him to bits and am astonished by his development too- its more when I see other kids wowing with their neat handwriting and drawings I start to feel insecure. It's not fair I know- I know my own kid can wow with his physical endurance but I never was competitive in a sporty way so I geel I am projecting my own sense of value- which always came from academics. Has anyone else dealt with these emotions and what were your strategies? I want to let go.

To be specific about what he can do- he can write some letters, (recognise maybe most-a lot (haven't tested)) but they are quite the scrawl, and I can count on one hand the number of drawings he has done that look like something recognisable... But I think his mind is switched on and inquisitive, we do all the things you're sposed to- lots of stories etc, and I figure school will teach him- but other kids just seem to be sponging it up at 3. He was late to talk as well and I had the same insecurities back then.

#2 CallMeFeral

Posted 23 September 2019 - 10:49 AM

It's hard, DH and I come from the same background and there is that niggling thought. Just noticing that in yourself is the best thing I think, because you can acknowledge the feeling and then remind yourself that that's not what you want for him.

It might also help to remember that while for some people they are talented early on and it continues, for the most part early success is not predictive of future acheivement. Especially things that are 'successes' that early, like neat handwriting, drawing, and so on.

I have a theory that different people 'peak' at different times. The people I knew in primary school who were the top of everything, no longer were in secondary school. I was unexceptional in primary school and then excelled in secondary. But I peaked too early too - uni and work life following that have been unexceptional. Perhaps I peaked too early, or perhaps things being easier for me in school than for some means that I didn't develop skills that would have led me to be more resilient, determined, tolerant of discomfort etc. So it never translated to later life success.

But similarly the people I know who 'peaked' later. For some they seem to have it all - happiness and riches and success. But I see far more for whom success has been due to a chip on their shoulder, an inferiority or insecurity that never goes away, and however successful they are they are never happy deep down. And for some of those the success defines them so much that they work ridiculous hours and miss out on much of their lives. So even adult achievement doesn't bring happiness.

Most of us in the end want our kids to be happy. And in a developed country such as this, as long as the person is able to get and hold a normal job, there is not much of a link between happiness and an excess of professional acheivement. And even less I would guess between happiness and secondary school academic achievement, and less again between happiness and primary or pre primary school acheivement. Keeping the end goal in mind will help you feel more confident I think with the things you are focusing on and away from the ones you feel you should focus on.

If there is a brief quote or something that reminds you of that end goal and really connects with you when you read it, you could print that out and keep it somewhere handy, like in a wallet or as your phone background. Just as a regular reminder of why you are rejecting that pressure.

Edited by CallMeFeral, 23 September 2019 - 10:49 AM.


#3 Jenflea

Posted 23 September 2019 - 10:57 AM

It's hard.
While I'm not uni educated or a high achiever in life, I can spell really well, so when I see DD(9 ) is 'at expected level' for spelling in yr 3 I feel she should be better. And it's hard not to comment on it.

So I try very hard to think that just because I could spell really well, it doesn't mean she'll be as good as early.  She's her own person, with her own strengths and weaknesses and I need to remember that.

It doesn't help that my parents put a lot of pressure on me to achieve academically(ha, I showed them! lol) so my default is pressure.

She's better at maths than I was at her age, they teach it so much better than when I was at school 35 odd years ago.

#4 Riotproof

Posted 23 September 2019 - 10:58 AM

I don’t want to dismiss your feelings, but he sounds completely normal. There is a wide range of normal.

#5 chicken_bits

Posted 23 September 2019 - 11:25 AM

It's really difficult not to compare. I've found it easier as my kids have got older.

I've been able to recognise that each child is an individual with different strengths and weaknesses. Just like adults. Unfortunately, the way the education system is set up, only a small, finite amount of 'skills' are tested. Even at school with my daughter's peers. They are all individual humans with their own individual interests, skills, areas of achievement. I find it easier to look at it that way.

I'll give you an example. My kids are both extremely bright but they have very different skill sets and learn very differently. I just found a picture of my daughter's writing when she was 4.5 and she had written me a card with perfectly formed letters which she would have written on her own after being prompted with the spelling. My son is at that age now, and he can write perhaps 10 letters on his own but the rest he needs to trace. That doesn't mean that I'm worried about my son's writing or that I think my daughter must be more advanced than him. It's just that his skills lie in a different area.

#6 Kallie88

Posted 23 September 2019 - 11:28 AM

I try to think about it in terms of their happiness. For example, dd (nearly 4yo) is pretty normal in most things, she doesn't excel at writing or reading or anything academic yet, but if she was that's not going to make her happy when she's older. Her curiosity will carry through her life and take her far more places. Her kindness will hopefully bring good people into her life who are equally caring. Average isn't a dirty word, especially at these young ages. I feel like we put too much pressure on ourselves and kids to be good at reading and writing "early" when there's no scientifically backed benefit to doing so. It's hard not to compare and wonder if you're doing enough, but kids run their own race and (i believe) it's just our job to nurture them while they find their way

#7 PhillipaCrawford

Posted 23 September 2019 - 11:36 AM

I would suggest googling a couple of things, sorry I'm on holidays so don't have access to regular resources.
1. Early academic training harmful.
2. Importance soft skills in life success.
3. Importance nature based play-links to lack of stress, decreased anxiety and also rise of eye sight problems in kids who don't get outside enough.

#8 Daffy2016

Posted 23 September 2019 - 11:55 AM

I struggle with this too, OP. For me, it’s because as I child I was complimented or criticised only in comparison to others, so a lot of my self worth is tied up in what other people have/do/look like, which is not ideal.

I try really hard to reframe it and remind myself that because another child is good at something doesn’t make them better and my child worse. I also try to allow myself to feel those feelings for a bit and acknowledge them and then move on.

I also know from experience that being the ‘smartest’ isn’t always easy and has its own set of lifelong challenges.

#9 alias grace

Posted 23 September 2019 - 12:11 PM

OP, I can relate a lot to your post, especially the part about academics being such a large part of your identity and sense of value.  In my case, I know that the feelings I have are not rational.  Rationally, I know that all that I should hope for my DD is that she is healthy, safe, happy, kind and well adjusted.  Rationally, I also know that academic aptitude and success do not readily translate into career/financial success or, indeed, happiness or contentment with life.  But the feelings still persist below the surface no matter how much I rationalise them.

I don't really have any strategies (my DD is a bit younger than your DS) but I agree with CMF, that just acknowledging the feeling can be very helpful.  And acknowledging that it is okay to feel the feeling if you do not act on it.  It also helps me to appreciate that others may also feel this way across a range of domains that I can't relate to - i.e. those who were very sporty, musical or popular, etc.  It sounds like you have a lot of insight into what you are feeling and why so that is a great start in itself.

#10 22Fruitmincepies

Posted 23 September 2019 - 12:22 PM

A couple of things about your specific issue - DD was like this at 4.5yo. She’s also one of the youngest in her year, so going in to FYOS (in WA) her teacher suggested some OT to help (she also was still gripping the pencil in a fist). She’s now caught up to her class and it’s given her so much confidence. When the OT did the initial testing, it showed that she was lacking in fine motor skills, which I was surprised about as she’s never had trouble with activities like threading.

Anyway, I’m suggesting that you could always support his writing through play - monkey bars and climbing for strength, fine motor activities etc. And if you need to, get extra support earlier rather than later imo (if you can afford it).

More generally, I have difficulty not comparing DD to other kids too. Her class has some kids who are working a couple of years ahead in some areas, and I have to remind myself that DD is achieving exactly what she should for FYOS, and is having a great time (her teacher is excellent at play based learning, the kids have learned so much but DD thinks she spends most of her day playing). I know that DD is bright, enthusiastic and inquisitive, and that her teacher enjoys having her in class. I have to be satisfied with that.

#11 Orangecake

Posted 23 September 2019 - 01:16 PM

Hi OP
I also think it's great you've recognised the feelings early on while your DS is young. He sounds totally on track and it's pretty common for boys to be less interested in drawing and writing at this age.

What has helped  me a lot is to focus on where my child is today compared to where they were. How are they developing on their own journey? What do they love doing that makes them happy? Long term this is the only journey that matters. Also recognising that my skills and successes are different to that of my children's.

I will say to be prepared for school as it can really bring out some of these feelings.

Edited by Orangecake, 28 September 2019 - 01:21 PM.


#12 Deep thought

Posted 23 September 2019 - 01:30 PM

The replies have been GREAT,Thanks! It has been really good to read other people having these feelings, and your responses in general. I think the getting ready for school has been opening up these insecurities a bit, so yes, good to be prepared for the wild ride next year!

I think I do sometimes console myself with the "oh early development doesn't necessarily indicate later success" but I've also become afraid of thinking that- what if DS is always a chilled out average kid! So I liked what Kallie said about average not being a dirty word- doesn't mean they are not a precious special child that deserves an inspiring education!

I don't want DS to  sense my feelings. I was highly motivated by reward and external validation and this did lead to "peaking too early" as PP mentioned. It leads to performance issues when stuff got hard (school was reasonably easy for me) as I am scared of failure. I want him to have natural curiosity and not want to learn something for a lot of external validation. I have also seen people pushed too hard and completely withdraw from the race- though I don't think I'm in danger of that, it's more my inner turmoil at feeling like I am not appreciating DS for who he is sometimes (certain triggers like seeing other amazing children!).

For whatever reason, I'm definitely hung up on the academic skills in particular, so peoples suggestions about thinking about the broader desire for our children is also helpful- soft skills, and happiness, caring and helpful, emotional literacy resilient and able to self entertain, strong and open relationships etc.

I feel l still have some issues. For example, seeing some child, who is way better than DS at those academics, I might try to push the insecure feelings away by thinking: ah look, she's not riding a bike yet; as if to give merit to the idea that you can't be good at everything/ everyone has "their thing" that they are good at. The truth is, that's not true I think. They are all just different, and themselves. Maybe I need to try to be proud of other people's children too, could that be the trick to not seeing someone else's achievement and viewing it through the lens of a deficiency on my/ DS part.

#13 a letter to Elise.

Posted 23 September 2019 - 01:54 PM

I struggled a bit, trying not to compare my DD to her older brother. My first Child was a bit of a prodigy. He taught himself to count and write, was drawing clearly recognisable pictures and writing his name (and a few other words) before he was 3.

My daughter had zero interest in drawing or writing. She barely picked up a pencil until she was 4. Even though I knew she was still in the normal range, it was really hard not to stress about it. It took me months to teach her to write her name in preparation for school.

As they’ve gotten older, it’s made little difference to their academic success. My son is very bright, but despite his early abilities, ended up very delayed in his writing as he’d developed a really awkward method of using a pencil. It meant he wasn’t able to complete his school work, despite being able to do it in his head. He needed a years worth of ot to catch up to his peers.

My daughter surprised me by being much more academic than I expected. At 7, she’s now getting A’s in art and maths, and B’s in nearly everything else. Considering she could barely draw when she started school last year, I’m shocked!  

I loved school, so much so that I became a teacher! I have to constantly remind myself that there are lots of ways to measure success and happiness in life, and academic ability is only one aspect.

#14 MsLaurie

Posted 23 September 2019 - 02:01 PM

Oh gosh I could have written this post!!
I was one of those kids that read before age three, went to school early, was testing at a year 9 reading in grade 4 etc etc... my DH was even brighter, teaching himself multiplication and division before starting school.
And our daughter has a range of delays and challenges and is needing extensive speech therapy, and at 4.5 she can’t read; or write her name legibly, and most of her drawings are just colour (sometimes with people and trees, but rarely). I find myself feeling oddly uncomfortable when other kids are writing careful words and reading books and I know that is completely stupid and illogical. Just because we were both naturally academic doesn’t mean she is or should be. I don’t know why the lack of reading bothers me so but oh it really does.

#15 newmumandexcited

Posted 23 September 2019 - 03:15 PM

View PostMsLaurie, on 23 September 2019 - 02:01 PM, said:

Oh gosh I could have written this post!!
I was one of those kids that read before age three, went to school early, was testing at a year 9 reading in grade 4 etc etc... my DH was even brighter, teaching himself multiplication and division before starting school.
And our daughter has a range of delays and challenges and is needing extensive speech therapy, and at 4.5 she can’t read; or write her name legibly, and most of her drawings are just colour (sometimes with people and trees, but rarely). I find myself feeling oddly uncomfortable when other kids are writing careful words and reading books and I know that is completely stupid and illogical. Just because we were both naturally academic doesn’t mean she is or should be. I don’t know why the lack of reading bothers me so but oh it really does.

Wow, never has that refrain ‘let them little’ rung more true to me.. rest assure my 4.5 old is not reading. He’s not me or my husband, he is his own person running his own race. It’s literally not a competition. I understand the feeling though.

As a teacher I see lots of overbearing parents and lots of very unhappy children who feel s—t about themselves. And I see lots of happy kids with genuinely supportive parents and a clear connection and acceptance of their kids, regardless of their grades and I model myself on them.

Edited by newmumandexcited, 23 September 2019 - 03:19 PM.


#16 Dadto2

Posted 23 September 2019 - 03:16 PM

Perhaps I'm stating the obvious, but maybe it's something that gets lost along the way, I try and make sure my kids are happy and content, that's a priority, sporting and academic success come second. My kids squad swim, I would love for them to swim to state or even national level, but I know that, potentially, comes at a high price. I swam as a kid and saw a lot of teenage carnage as a result of pushy parents, pushy coaches or whatever. Kids with national titles, but severely depressed. If my kids were pushed to swim twice a day, like many are, they would probably make the state team (they're not far off), but I don't think they would cope.

Similarly with academics and other pursuits. Obviously not all kids, some live for sport or genuinely love to study, love music etc But I think I'm cognisant that for many, it comes at a price, something that they may carry on into adulthood. I like seeing kids succeed and thrive, even though my kids are getting Bs and Cs, there's no bitterness or cynicism, but yeah you do think, how are they going? How much say do they get in their life? Are they going to leave school with a smile on their face and look back with fondness? Are they a well rounded, happy, positive individual?

Edited by Dadto2, 23 September 2019 - 03:19 PM.


#17 Dianalynch

Posted 23 September 2019 - 03:43 PM

Okay so my kids are academically very able, however while it’s an advantage, success in life (which can mean a lot of very different things) is, IMHO, more a result of working hard, persistence, strong social skills, empathy, learning from mistakes, kindness etc

With our kids that’s what we focus on - ‘hey you worked really hard at that, well done’, learning from mistakes, taking a risk, etc. The results are more the outcomes of these behaviours. The kids know that when we look at their school reports, we look at their grades for effort and behaviour first. Being 4 years ahead in maths or whatever isn’t going to determine your future as much as being able to persist at something until you’ve worked it out.



#18 Dadto2

Posted 23 September 2019 - 03:50 PM

View Postnewmumandexcited, on 23 September 2019 - 03:15 PM, said:


As a teacher I see lots of overbearing parents and lots of very unhappy children who feel s—t about themselves. And I see lots of happy kids with genuinely supportive parents and a clear connection and acceptance of their kids, regardless of their grades and I model myself on them.

Spot on.

#19 MsLaurie

Posted 23 September 2019 - 04:09 PM

Could this not turn into “i’m more accepting than thee” thing? People are sharing how uncomfortable they feel about sometimes comparing their kids and honestly it’s an awful and guilty feeling, to realise your implicit unexpressed ideas about who your children might be are different to who it turns out they are. Doesn’t mean you don’t love and adore and admire that person.

#20 JomoMum

Posted 23 September 2019 - 06:38 PM

View PostRiotproof, on 23 September 2019 - 10:58 AM, said:

I don’t want to dismiss your feelings, but he sounds completely normal. There is a wide range of normal.

My time here on EB has taught me a lot about the value of your own child being kind and able to socialize well.

Our nearly 6 year old is extremely bright. He reads novels, understands scientific concepts that are very complex, is incredible with numbers etc. He excels in the classroom.

But socially, he is awkward and perceived as weird and annoying sometimes.

I don’t mean to dismiss your feelings. Because I really do understand that feeling of wanting your child to succeed in everything they do. I guess I am just trying to provide some perspective from a Mum who has a kid that excels academically, but struggles in other areas that I see as just as important too x

#21 Deep thought

Posted 23 September 2019 - 07:07 PM

Thanks Jomo. I expect if I had an academically excellent socially awkward kid I would tend to feel similarly- noticing the skills they don't have. (I have perfectionist tendencies). So maybe the comparing thing goes across many aspects of personality but academic stuff is one of the most quantified aspects of a personality.

I was reflecting on this a bit more this afternoon. Don't get me wrong, I'm not constantly dissatisfied with my kids- there was just a social event on weekend that triggered my insecurities and I realised I wasn't happy/ comfortable cause another much younger kid we're quite close to was so much better than mine. Mostly it's fine.

I reflected that I actually feel like my parents (mainly my mother!) still compare ME to adult kids of their friends, acquaintances. Or maybe they don't- but when they talk glowingly about how brilliant such and such is, what fancy job they have got etc, I'm perceiving that as a comparison! I know they love me and are proud too, and would rather I'm happy than stressed about achievement... but they have always given positive feedback when I have achieved. I don't know that I can reasonably expect any other behaviour from them really- as in it's me not them with the problem I suspect- but my Mum is also quite an insecure person so maybe as a mother she felt the same! I'm an oldest child, do you think oldest children carry more baggage about parental approval? (And desiring to be best in parents eyes). In which case I feels it's doubly important to let go of these insecure feelings that arise when I observe my eldest child in comparison to others.

I felt like us siblings copped a lot of comparison as kids too and I am so consciously trying not to do that now we have two. I'm sure my parents were just making observations but I heard all praise of sister as my deficiency. Now I'm a parent, it's literally impossible not to make observations in your head though.

#22 newmumandexcited

Posted 23 September 2019 - 07:13 PM

View PostMsLaurie, on 23 September 2019 - 04:09 PM, said:

Could this not turn into “i’m more accepting than thee” thing? People are sharing how uncomfortable they feel about sometimes comparing their kids and honestly it’s an awful and guilty feeling, to realise your implicit unexpressed ideas about who your children might be are different to who it turns out they are. Doesn’t mean you don’t love and adore and admire that person.

I’m sorry if I was being insensitive. I don’t think anyone’s children are really how they imagined they’d be. I imagined quiet intelligent girls lined up and got three loud boys. For me it’s been about letting go of the expectation with an awareness that it may damage my perception of what’s so awesome about what I did get.

Edited by newmumandexcited, 23 September 2019 - 07:51 PM.


#23 Coffeegirl

Posted 23 September 2019 - 07:35 PM

I think it’s perfectly natural to compare your child to another child of the same age.  We’re all told about ‘developmental milestones’ from birth, and even the GPS and maternal nurses do it during their check ups.

But we still need to remember that it’s a ‘range’.     Kids start crawling between 6-8 mths, they walk between 10-14 mths etc. (don’t correct me on these timelines, they are just an example)

So when our kids get older and we start noticing educational milestones, we again need to remember these are ranges.     Some kids read earlier than others, some grasp maths faster.    

I remember when my son started kindergarten, the teacher told me that most kids who had no daycare or preschool beginnings, would catch up to those that did by the end of the year.   And she was right.


And OP, my DS(15)’s  writing is like chicken scratch.  Yet he’s still in advanced English and extension maths.  His drawings in kindy were just a mess,  now his graphic designs are astoundingly good!

#24 No girls here

Posted 23 September 2019 - 08:04 PM

I really don't think academic skills are indicative of future happiness. When I look at the adults I know who are happy in life I think it has more to do with social skills and outlook on life than anything else.

Also, don't think the other parents aren't jealous of your child. My first 2 kids were academic and reached milestones early. I would have given anything to have average children who slept well.

My DS3 is an average kid but I've always said he has more life skills (ie organisation etc) than my more academically able kids.

#25 CallMeFeral

Posted 23 September 2019 - 09:41 PM

View PostMsLaurie, on 23 September 2019 - 04:09 PM, said:

Could this not turn into “i’m more accepting than thee” thing? People are sharing how uncomfortable they feel about sometimes comparing their kids and honestly it’s an awful and guilty feeling, to realise your implicit unexpressed ideas about who your children might be are different to who it turns out they are. Doesn’t mean you don’t love and adore and admire that person.

Thanks so much for putting that into words so well!




1 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 1 guests, 0 anonymous users

 
 
Advertisement
 

Top 5 Viewed Articles

 
Advertisement
 
 
 
Advertisement
 
 
Essential Baby and Essential Kids is the place to find parenting information and parenting support relating to conception, pregnancy, birth, babies, toddlers, kids, maternity, family budgeting, family travel, nutrition and wellbeing, family entertainment, kids entertainment, tips for the family home, child-friendly recipes and parenting. Try our pregnancy due date calculator to determine your due date, or our ovulation calculator to predict ovulation and your fertile period. Our pregnancy week by week guide shows your baby's stages of development. Access our very active mum's discussion groups in the Essential Baby forums or the Essential Kids forums to talk to mums about conception, pregnancy, birth, babies, toddlers, kids and parenting lifestyle. Essential Baby also offers a baby names database of more than 22,000 baby names, popular baby names, boys' names, girls' names and baby names advice in our baby names forum. Essential Kids features a range of free printable worksheets for kids from preschool years through to primary school years. For the latest baby clothes, maternity clothes, maternity accessories, toddler products, kids toys and kids clothing, breastfeeding and other parenting resources, check out Essential Baby and Essential Kids.