As our children are growing, they are learning increasingly about the world. At some point in their development, they begin comparing themselves to other children. When they do so, they often feel distressed and upset. They may have anxiety and other unpleasant feelings. Such a psychological state can lead to long-term depression and other serious mental health disorders. That is why parents should always be alert to how their children feel. Parents should help their children develop a healthy and good self-esteem.
We should admit that there is nothing wrong when we compare ourselves to other people. It is simply our human nature. And of course, we should expect that our children, as they grow, will start comparing themselves to other children. However, these days our children are more vulnerable because of the unique social context they find themselves in. Social media are ubiquitous, and they are all about being the best and comparing yourself to others.
When children compare themselves to others on social media their self-image and self-esteem can suffer even more damage. Social media make our children question themselves and make them form a competitive mind. Even worse, some children start comparing themselves to celebrities and get upset about not being able to measure up. Research also shows that people who frequently compare themselves to others often feel guilty, regretful, and defensive.
What parents should do if their child starts comparing himself to others?
How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others: Advice for your Children
If your children are wondering how they can stop comparing themselves to others, here is some advice you can give them
Try practising gratitude.
This important habit can be life changing. Keep a journal and write down all the things that make you feel happy and bring you joy. Write about what you are grateful for and what things you like about yourself. This method is a simple way to focus on the positive things that surround you and avoid negative thoughts.
If you are still not sure what to write about in your gratitude journal, ask yourself the following questions. What is your favourite way to relax? What is one good thing about the place where you live? Write about something beautiful that you saw today. Who is your best friend? Why do you like the place where you live?
Be aware of the situations and triggers that make you compare yourself to others.
Indeed, if you really want to stop comparing yourself to others, you need to be mindful of all situations and circumstances that make you prone to comparing yourself to others.
For example, look at the social media. Are you easily upset and discouraged by someone else’s posts? Are you sad when you see news posts made by celebrities? If you do, then it may be better to unfollow these celebrities for a while.
In fact, you should always be mindful of the effects of social media on your life. Of course, social media help us stay informed about what is going on in the lives of our parents, friends, and other important people. Social media can educate us and teach us new things about the world. But at the same time, if not used in moderation, social media can harm us.
So, if you find yourself spending hours scrolling social media, remind yourself that there are many other productive ways of spending your time. You could read a book. You could call a friend. Or you could simply go for walk. These simple activities will be more beneficial both to your self-esteem and self-development.
Remind yourself of your strengths and talents. Focus on them.
Every person is unique and talented in their own way. Remember about that. You are unique, talented, and successful in your own way too. You have unique life experiences and views. Reminding yourself of your self-worth and all the little things that you have already achieved can help you interrupt the train of negative thoughts in your head and take control of your envy.
Redirect your thoughts and don’t let them dominate you.
It is important to realize that since comparing yourself to others is a part of our human nature, then you will probably be comparing yourself to others. But if you train your mind to step away from your negative thoughts, the effect of comparing yourself to others will not be as detrimental.
Also make yourself realize that when you compare yourself to others, you are essentially comparing their “outsides” with your “insides”. The truth is that when we compare ourselves with other people, we don’t really know what is happening in their lives. We don’t know whether they are happy with themselves and with what they have in their lives.
It is also important to remember that whenever you are comparing yourself to someone else’s profile on social media you are doing yourself a great disservice as you are comparing yourself to a perfectly curated social media profile and not someone’s real life.
Make a list of your achievements
When we compare ourselves to other people, we tend to compare their strengths with our weaknesses. And, of course, it only makes us feel worse. So, in order to solve this problem, try making a list of all your achievements – whether they are big or small. Make a list of all the things you feel proud of. Perhaps, you have helped someone who was in need. Or you found a solution to a difficult situation. Write down all your achievements and place this list somewhere where you will be able to see it every morning. And whenever you start comparing yourself to others, remember about this list – it will help you stop comparing the worst of yourself with the best of others.
Celebrate other people’s success
Although it may seem that celebrating other people’s success is not going to help you stop comparing yourself to others, such a strategy can help. When you compare yourself to other people you tend to feel unhappy because you see people’s success and achievements. But the good news is that when you celebrate other people’s success you are not downplaying your own achievements! Celebrating other people’s success will help you shift the focus from your negative thoughts about being inferior to them.
What can I do as a parent to help my children stop comparing themselves to others?
There are some things that parents can do to help their children stop comparing themselves to others. Here are some of them:
Don’t compare your child to other children. When you start comparing your children to others, you make them feel insecure. You automatically make them question their self-worth. You make them feel more anxious and stressed. Indeed, by comparing their children to others some parents are merely trying to instigate a competitive spirit in them so that they can do better. While such an approach can make your children feel more competitive, it can also break their confidence. So, avoid comparing your child to others.
1. Don’t compare your child to other children. When you start comparing your children to others, you make them feel insecure. You automatically make them question their self-worth. You make them feel more anxious and stressed. Indeed, by comparing their children to others some parents are merely trying to instigate a competitive spirit in them so that they can do better. While such an approach can make your children feel more competitive, it can also break their confidence. So, avoid comparing your child to others.
2. Acknowledge and celebrate their progress rather than the result. By doing so you will help your child build solid self-esteem and help them avoid comparing themselves to other children. Even though you think that your child has not achieved anything extraordinary this week, there are surely things your children can get some praise for. These things include getting a good grade, doing well on a test, or even making it through the week. All these things can be celebrated and acknowledged.
3. Encourage your children to concentrate on achieving their personal goals. When parents talk to their children about their goals and objectives, they help them form new behaviours. When children and adolescents have goals and keep them in mind, they are not distracted by things around them. And even if they do compare themselves to others, they don’t feel anxious or upset. They simply move on.
It is perfectly normal when we compare ourselves to others. It is part of our human nature. However, if you see that your child feels upset and depressed when he or she is comparing themselves to others, you need to remind them that they are talented and unique in their own way.
Russ Gadzhiev obtained his PhD in history and politics from University of Melbourne. He also holds a master’s degree in International Relations from Moscow State University of International Relations, a top-ranking diplomatic school. Russ is a strong education professional with a history of working in the higher education sector of Australia and effectively communicates with learners from diverse cultural backgrounds. He is enthusiastic about teaching and mentoring, writing, curriculum development, research, information management and public speaking. He is fluent in Russian, English, Spanish and Portuguese.