Kids have a tendency to compare their life to their friends’ lives. They might argue over who got more gifts for Christmas, who has better clothes, or who’s more popular at school. As a parent, you probably tell your child not to compare.
It’s easy to tell your kids to stop this habit, but it’s not easy to model it. When other families in your neighborhood move to bigger homes in better neighborhoods, you might feel the pressure to do the same thing.
When your friends travel more often and further away, you might feel that your family is lagging behind. Even simple things like your child’s birthday party can cause you to compare, so you spend time and money planning an elaborate party that’s better than their friends’ parties.
Is Comparison Making Your Family Miserable?
Like your kids, you may feel the need to measure up and prove that you and your family are just as good as everyone else. But constantly trying to outdo everyone else can cause you and your family members to experience overwhelm, burnout, depression, and even panic attacks.
Maybe you recognize some of your own comparison habits or the habits of your children. The good news is that you can undo the damage with time and practice.
What Do Kids Really Want?
As a parent, you might be tempted to believe that what your child really wants is the latest gaming console, the best clothes, or the hottest electronics. But social experiments like Ikea: The Other Letter show that children prefer quality time with their parents to gifts and expensive luxury items.
You don’t have to move your family to a remote cabin in the mountains in order to spend more quality time together. You can play board games, go on a hike, or build a fort in the living room. Even simple things like going to the grocery store together can be special if you and your child power off the electronics. By disconnecting with technology, you and your child will find it easier to connect with each other.
How Can You Inspire Your Kids?
Another helpful way to end comparisons is to create a family vision board. This lets you and your kids define what you value most as individuals and as a family. You can use this board to guide you when making family decisions so that everyone feels heard.
You can also help your kids stop comparing their lives to their friends’ by getting them involved in events for those in need. When your child volunteers at a soup kitchen every Saturday, they gain perspective. They begin to understand that there are worse things than having leftovers twice a week. When you encourage your child to help others, you’re teaching them to develop an attitude of gratitude and creating a desire to serve others.
When it comes to comparison, understand that it can take some time to change your family’s attitudes. Keep working at it and encourage your kids to hold you accountable, too.
Reflections And Intentions…
1. Who do you find yourself comparing your family to? In what ways do you compare?
2. When your kids start comparing themselves to their friends, what advice do you usually offer? Does this advice seem to help?
3. How can you get your kids involved in activities that help those in need?