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Comparing Children - A Solution For Parents In Just A Few Short Words

By Rory Sullivan



Stop! Don't Do It!

I don't mean to be glib, but there is no better answer. We could find ourselves making comparisons with all sorts of people, from family members to school associates to public figures, and in no instance is it a good idea.

When we are moved to make favourable comparisons - "You tidied up your toys, not like your messy brother."

Stop! Don't do it!

How about this: Describe what we see (and feel, if appropriate): "You tidied up your toys. I really appreciate it."

Rather than making unfavourable comparisons - "This room is a mess! Why can't you be more like your brother and tidy up your toys?"

Stop! Don't do it!

How about this: Offer some constructive criticism by focusing on specifics: "If you're not playing with these toys, I would like to see them all put away."

No one else needs to be mentioned or implied.

It is particularly tempting to make comparisons between siblings, be they negative or positive. Each type of comparison carries its own destructive negative connotation. It is far better if we do not ask our children to pit themselves against their siblings - it invites guilt, competition, and jealousy. We can avoid this simply by concentrating our comments towards the child we are addressing without making any mention of other family members. It will give our words so much more weight.

It is a simple, but effective, solution. And it can be applied to anyone, including ourselves. Ditching the comparisons helps us to focus on specifics and deal with the situation at hand without the need for any punctured feelings.



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Rory Sullivan writes for A carpenter from Nazareth, a website dedicated to helping people unearth the spirituality within.



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