Did any other parents of young children look at the Mother's Day cards written by Prince George and Princess Charlotte and feel slightly insecure?
The beautifully crafted cards were brimming with sincere sentiment and loving words to remember a touching annual event, possibly to remind Prince Harry that he doesn't have a monopoly on grief for Princess Diana. But let's put all that aside.
So, I ask sincerely, did anyone else with a child aged between 5 and 8 look at those cards and wonder about their own child's progress? I'll admit that I googled Princess Charlotte and upon learning she is a few months older than my daughter, felt a bit bummed out.
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Women especially make a blood sport out of comparing ourselves. We know better, yet we still compare our bodies, relationships, homes and lives. We know it's a waste of time and energy. We know we should be celebrating our diversity and speaking to ourselves the way we speak to our best friends, yet we are our own biggest detractors. This morning, it shames me to admit, I compared my own child.
I rarely compare my daughter, mostly because I truly believe she is the most incredible child in the world full stop. I couldn't help but do a double take when I read those cards though. Those looping links of Charlotte and George's are actual handwriting. I recall being at least Standard 3 in Mr Coombridge's class when he introduced the idea of handwriting to us. Meanwhile, my 5-year-old is only just beginning to learn about tunnels, cups and possum tails. Linking letters is a long way off. I really need to chill out.
As parents we compare our children although we absolutely shouldn't, and we need to stop. The quote "Comparison is the thief of joy" sums it up nicely. Children inherently look to their parents for praise and they want to impress us. If all we do is compare them to their peers or to ourselves, even if it's only in our own heads, we will miss out on all the wonderful things they love and achieve - and are actually good at. Even worse, if they pick up on our judgment they may stop doing, trying and learning altogether.
In an article published on Mom.com, the author shared how she stopped comparing her kids and a lot of it came down to changing her own behaviour: digital detoxing, unfollowing those with seemingly perfect lives and children, and being ruthless with the content she allowed herself to digest.
Snapshots of people's seemingly perfect kids, their healthy dinners and their achievements can make even the most secure parent question whether they are doing it right. It's hard because stopping the comparisons requires us adults to make changes and do some graft. It seems like the work of a parent really is never done.
Another way to stop comparing your children is to celebrate them and what they are achieving. Encourage them to pursue things they love and let them develop those skills. Use lots of positive reinforcement when they try new things and show patience and empathy while they are mastering new talents.
While you're saying all the right things, actively listen to what you are saying to remind you of what a special and unique child you have. Remember where these comparisons are coming from. Often, we voice the expectations of ourselves and our own insecurities, placing too much pressure on little lives.