Can you believe it? Spring is almost in the air! It is hard to imagine that in a few short weeks we will welcome yet another season that brings us many beautiful colors of the rainbow. We will begin to see flowers come back into bloom as the dormant grass starts to make its way back to its original green color. Little buds surround the trees and bushes, reminding us that they too are a part of nature’s beauty. Spring has a way of calming us down and putting that smile back on our faces while lifting our spirits. We see children spending more time outside playing with their friends or utilizing the outdoors as their imaginary fairytale. Either one is just as adventurous because creativity is limitless and the minds of our kiddos are never ending.
I believe that each child is born with a purpose and it begins from day one. No two children are alike. Each mind is like a unique puzzle with more than a 1000 puzzle pieces to make it complete. Some would tend to argue that even twins have their differences. As a mom of two girls, I found myself making sibling comparisons when they were much younger. It was very easy to compare the developmental milestones of both, not to mention, comparing the vocal chords of each one. That’s for another story. As a first-time parent, my thoughts of comparison became so routine. This must be a natural part of parenting, right? Fast forward a few years and let me just say that I quickly learned comparing siblings to each other, or even to their same-aged friends, is not always a good idea for parents. Let’s go back to our Parenting:101 checklist and remind ourselves that our children are all special in his or her own way. Sometimes we get caught up in the sibling comparisons or even the playdate comparisons, but remember that each child is unique in their skills, abilities and interests.
I get it. It is difficult to not compare what is right in front of us. Even if you only have one child, with the many playdates we have with each other, how can we not compare against those in our circle? How soon will the second child walk? How quickly will potty training be complete? When will they sleep through the night or transition from the crib to a regular bed? All of these are great questions, but let us remember that the answer key is well hidden within your child. Even siblings can be total opposites but I know that doesn’t keep us from sometimes comparing the younger one to the older one or even vice versa. What about academics? How will the younger siblings compare to the rest? How will your child compare to others in his/her classroom? I believe this is the one that is used more often than not. As parents we are always looking out for our children, and doing what we feel is best for them, but there is nothing wrong with putting those Harvard and Yale brochures aside…at least for now. Let us break it down even further, and while we all have great intentions, how might this comparison make the children who are being compared feel?
I will be the first to admit that I had no idea there could be consequences to my sibling comparisons. Perhaps consequences is a heavy word, but I did notice some changes nonetheless. I have heard it said before, “where there is comparison, there is competition.” So true. Sometimes the comparison creates a feeling of jealousy among siblings or friends, which trickles down to the home surroundings. In some cases, comparisons might even affect a child’s self-esteem. In their little minds, they might feel that he/she is not as important or valuable as their other siblings or friends. Their thought process is quite simple at times, and the idea of feeling less than in any capacity is never a parent’s intent.
So let us take this Parenting:101 one day at a time. We learn as we go and yes, we are all going to make mistakes and that’s ok. Did I mention this parenting thing is not easy? We will realize that every child has strengths and weaknesses, and that too is ok. As parents we will continue to challenge the strengths and help overcome the weaknesses. That is what we do. Continue to praise your children for their individuality and their unique minds. Recognize that these future leaders have a plan and that each pace might look a bit different. So perhaps you go ahead and give that 9th hug of the night, or that one more “good night I’ll see you when the sun comes up” tagline to the child who is still awake after an hour because they really do grow up so quickly and every moment counts.
Stay positive and continue creating memories with your children. Stay safe and healthy.
Vice President of Education and Training
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