Comparison: Negative emotions experienced by children

“Siblings that say they never fight are most definitely hiding something”

― Lemony SnicketHorseradish: Bitter Truths You Can’t Avoid

Picture Courtesy –

Sibling rivalry…something that is not unheard of by any of us.

Do you have any idea where does this seed of rivalry get its food supply from?

How does it turn into a sapling first and slowly become a big, tough, resistant tree??

It all starts from comparison. And to no one’s surprise, its roots are manifested first within our homes only.

Knowingly or unknowingly, the parents and other family members tend to compare the children. It’s as simple as this…

ABC, you are so good with coloring.”, you tend to tell your lil one.

When the elder one spurts out,  “Mamma, am I not good enough?”

“XYZ, you are good too,  but you tend to spread it out a bit.”

Isn’t that a very simple and visibly non-toxic response from a parent? But the fact is, it seeds in a kind of inferiority complex in the child. It gives rise to an unhealthy rivalry between them. A series of similar episodes can have serious repercussions on the behavior of the child and can poison their relationship.  Some of us do not have an idea as to what extent comparison can effect child development.


  • makes the child feel inferior, unloved and unwanted
  • leads to an unhealthy competition between children
  • kills talent and makes the child withdraw themselves from the rest of the crowd
  • develops an indifferent attitude in children
  • increases a feeling of loneliness within the child
Picture Courtesy: FaceBook
Picture Courtesy: FaceBook

Once in school, the only mantra they learn or rather we collectively as a society make them learn is, competition.

A teacher who handles a minimum of 25 children in a class cannot be questioned if she compares a child with many others. It is her duty to compare and encourage the children to improve themselves. Everything is good enough till it induces positive and healthy competition.

Picture Courtesy –

The trouble starts when the comparison gets too personal and without our knowledge sows the seeds of jealousy and destruction within a child. Our words, our actions, we have no idea how much they influence the children, so why not make them soft and supple for the innocent hearts to bloom and flourish? We cannot measure the intensity or the extent to which a child gets hurt, because children generally tend to hide their discomfort or the thoughts that are troubling them.

Care must be taken to ensure that comparison is perceived in a positive way. This can be imbibed within the child slowly by parents and other elders. Ensure not to make negative remarks too harshly. There are ways to handle things. Understand that we as elders too have inhibitions when it comes to accepting negative comparisons and criticism. If it can hurt a mature adult, imagine the extent to which it can hurt an innocent child’s feelings. Sometimes it is not necessary to voice out comparison to be fair to the one who does better. Do not be harsh and always give logical reasoning for a comparison you have made.

Sibling Squabble
Sibling Squabble

First and foremost, we must learn to place ourselves at the child’s level and see the bigger picture. Understanding and accepting the feeling of being compared helps a lot in resolving the situation. Comparison should be used to generate a positive competitive spirit in the children. While teaching the kids to win, one must also make them learn to accept failures. It helps a lot. I have seen kids who are so badly effected by small failures…and I have wondered how are they going to cope up with the bigger challenges in life.

Everyone wants their child to excel…but in that effort don’t end up torturing the child.

A thought that came up while handling a sibling fight between my little girls.

After all the gyaan sharing, I must admit that preaching is anytime better than implementing. There are many events when I myself have ended up comparing them both and hurting the other. But I try my best to talk it out with them and give them the reasoning for a particular behavior or my words that hurt them.

Honesty is the best policy.

A lesson I have learnt well through my parenting journey. Be honest and the child will respect you and will be open with you. And if you get to converse with them one on one without any barriers of age, half the work is done.

Happy Parenting! 🙂

P.S. Just as I am about to finish, Lil Love says,

“Rekhu, can you please pass on the eraser???”

Well, I’m wondering if I need to re-do the post…I guess too much honesty and friendliness is injurious too. 😀


9 Replies to “Comparison: Negative emotions experienced by children”

  1. I have dealt with sibling rivalry since my sister was old enough to talk. She has always been jealous of things I get even when she doesn’t want them. I hope one day we will be able to get along like civilized adults. For now though it feels like a pipe dream….

    1. I’m not sure how old both of you are. All I can say is always stretch a friendly hand, share a lovely hug with each other. Rivalry was definitely there between me and my sis too…but as we grew up, we have become much more than sisters. She’s miles away from me, but just a call away for any help I need. More than all of this, she’s the only person I can share my insecurities with. I wish you both find that connect soon and get bonded for life. My best wishes.

      Thanks for dropping by. 🙂

  2. My two are 22 and 18 and although they have had their moments over the years they get on really well, and I believe that is because of the way we have treated them whilst growing up, they are both good at different things and we have always encouraged them to help each other out, hence Neil has always been willing to take advice from his younger sister (especially in the maths department) and Emma never shies away from asking her Big Bruv for guidance.

    1. Parents indeed play a big role in handling sibling rivalry. Kudos to you for being a wonderful parent.

      Thanks for visiting my virtual space. 🙂

  3. Great advice Rekha. Never had need for it with an only child. But I watch with amusement my daughter handle her two boys….she does a great job, most of the time 😀

    1. I have been on both sides of the river. I have a little sister with whom I have had the craziest of fights, but now we are the bestest of friends. And now I have two little daughters who make me learn and unlearn. It’s fun to watch them in different situations and compare with similar ones during my childhood. 🙂

  4. Very good advice, I really enjoyed the article. I was an only child, so I never had to deal with any competition at home–I had all of the parental attention. However, as a mother of three I have definitely been in the middle of it here with my children. You have to learn to handle each child with love, care and respect–something that grownups often forget.

    A really great read!

    1. Thank you! 🙂

      Indeed, every child is different and has to tackled differently. Something works for some and somethings don’t work. Parenting is a continuous process of learning and unlearning. 🙂

      Thanks for visiting my site. I’ll be at your place soon.

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