Negative Consequences of Comparing Your Children

Comparing children and siblings is common but sometimes we overlook how harmful it is. This article provides insight into this in hopes that we can help to detour sibling comparisons in your family.

It’s bad enough that children often compare themselves. That’s why they fight so much amongst one another.

But for various reasons parents, often compare their children as well.

There can be a number of reasons why parents compare their children. Some of the most common reasons include:

  1. Cultural or societal expectations: In some cultures or societies, there may be a strong emphasis on achievement and success, and parents may feel pressure to compare their children to others in order to ensure that they’re meeting these expectations.
  2. Unconscious bias: Sometimes parents may compare their children unconsciously, without even realizing that they’re doing it. This can be the result of personal biases or assumptions about their children’s abilities or personalities.
  3. Family dynamics: Family dynamics can also play a role in why parents compare their children. For example, if one child is struggling in school or with a particular skill, parents may feel like they need to push that child harder in order to help them succeed. This can create a sense of competition between siblings and lead to comparisons.
  4. Lack of awareness: Finally, parents may compare their children simply because they’re not aware of the negative consequences. They may think that comparing their children will motivate them to work harder or do better, without realizing the potential harm that it can cause.

Nonetheless, comparing children can have a number of negative consequences, including:

  1. Damaged self-esteem: When children are constantly compared to their siblings or peers, they may feel like they’re not good enough or that they don’t measure up. This can damage their self-esteem and lead to feelings of insecurity and self-doubt.
  2. Increased sibling rivalry: Comparing children can also increase sibling rivalry and resentment. When children feel like they’re competing with each other for their parents’ approval, it can create tension and conflict in the family.
  3. Strained relationships: Constantly comparing children can also strain relationships between siblings and between parents and children. Children may feel like they can’t be themselves around their parents or siblings, and parents may struggle to build strong, positive relationships with each of their children.
  4. Unhealthy competition: When children are constantly compared to each other, it can create an unhealthy sense of competition. Children may feel like they have to outdo their siblings or peers in order to win their parents’ approval, which can be emotionally exhausting and damaging.
  5. Inequality: Comparing children can also create a sense of inequality in the family. When one child is consistently praised or favored over another, it can create feelings of resentment and unfairness.

Overall, comparing children can have a number of negative consequences, both for the children themselves and for the family as a whole. It’s important for parents to recognize the unique strengths and weaknesses of each of their children and to support them in their individual journeys.

If your family needs help with the consequences of comparing children and siblings, help is available.

Contact one of our therapists now.