Please Don’t Compare Me

“See, what did I say, try to be more like your brother.”
“Really? Only 80? That A girl got 100.”
“I would be very happy if you can get the first rank like your cousin B.”
“Your older brother is very diligent, unlike you who doesn’t want to study.”

Have you ever heard the statements above? Or have you even told your child? Some parents think it is necessary to use sentences like the ones above, especially to encourage children. These sentences are seen as motivational sentences that will immediately bring out a miracle, which is better children’s performance and behavior.

But, did you know that these sentences are actually not appropriate to give to children? Instead of motivating them, these sentences will undermine the child’s motivation and self-confidence. The sentences also suggest that parents do not realize and do not appreciate the uniqueness of each child, or do not love their children as a whole.

When viewed from the child’s point of view, the sentence will describe the parental love that is conditional, and the child will interpret “Mom/Dad loves me as long as …”. As a result, when this sentence is used, the relationship between parents and children will be distant. In addition, children can also feel “jealous” towards people who are compared to them. In fact, it does not rule out negative competition between them.

Therefore, it would be better if parents do not motivate their children by comparing children with other individuals. Motivate your children in wiser ways, such as:

  1. Be straightforward and explicit about what you want to convey.
    For example, instead of: “Dad would be very proud if you could get the first rank like your cousin B.”, better: “Seeing the result of your studies this time, I think you have to be more disciplined and more diligent in studying.”
  2. Give solutions and not demands.
    For example, instead of: “Your older brother is very diligent, unlike you who doesn’t want to study.”, better: “I think you need to set priorities when to study and when to play. Let’s make a study schedule agreement, and Mom asks you to try to stick to it,”
  3. If you want to ask your children to complete a task, don’t forget to tell the reason why we asked for it.
    For example, instead of: ”See, what did I say, try to be more like your brother.”, better: “Come on, clean up your desk, if your study area is neat, you will be more comfortable studying.”
  4. When giving motivational words, try not to associate them with other people.
    For example, instead of: “Let’s maintain your performance, don’t be like A. He has a bad grade.”, better: “You are great, keep up the good work.”.

In addition, it would be nice for parents no to forget to display gestures that show affection, for example, while hugging or patting the shoulder of the child. Body language often speaks more than what you say. The right body gestures will reinforce your message to the child and of course, the child will be more motivated by watching your gestures. Let us encourage children in wise and constructive ways. Motivate children, YES! Comparing child NO!

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs,
that it may benefit those who listen."
Ephesians 4:29


Mutiara Mei Permata, S.Psi.
IPEKA Counseling Center

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