Does your child constantly compare himself to other children? Why does he do this? Does this have to do with low self-esteem? It could be, although it is not always the case.
In this article we reflect on the reason for these comparisons, when they become harmful and what lies behind all this .
Also, we talk about some strategies to accompany your child in the construction of their identity and their self-esteem.
Why are children compared?
We all compare ourselves, both children and adults. And up to a certain point, it is normal to do so (to reaffirm ourselves, improve ourselves, “locate ourselves”, search for our own identity…).
In fact, according to the Psychological Theory of Social Comparison by psychologist Leo Festinger (1954), people evaluate our own opinions, abilities, and skills by comparing them with those of others .
We do this, above all, in situations of uncertainty, when it is difficult to measure our abilities objectively or realistically.
Depending on who children compare themselves to (and the criteria they use to do so), logically, they will feel that their skills, abilities or personal characteristics are more or less good , correct or adequate.
Thus, children (and adults in general) are compared, broadly speaking, for two main reasons:
Children compare themselves with others, usually their peers, to evaluate themselves, since, like everyone else, they need to evaluate their opinions and abilities, and therefore resort to some external criterion (in this case, others).
And since, like many times, these opinions and capacities cannot be evaluated by empirical observations, they must resort to something external. And the “easiest” thing for them is to do it with their peers or peers.
To improve or reaffirm
Children also compare themselves to improve or assert themselves , although sometimes they do not realize it, or to develop skills that others do possess.
And it is that if the comparisons are properly focused (not so much as “being the same as the other”), they can serve as a source of motivation. Thus, the others can also be role models in some aspects.
Does your child constantly compare himself? Possible causes
As we have seen, although it is “normal” for children to compare themselves from time to time, or in certain aspects, it is not so normal to compare themselves continuously (which can also greatly damage self-esteem).
Thus, difficulties arise when that comparison is constant. In this case, why are children so often compared?
Perhaps there is some basic complex
Having a complex makes children compare themselves more than usual. The complexes are those negative or distorted beliefs about one’s own physical or psychological aspect.
They are aspects that we do not like about ourselves and that, in addition, cause us insecurities, because we experience them as “defects”. For example, being “too” tall, “too” short, having a certain nose or teeth, etc.
If the child does not like that particular aspect of his body, this is likely to encourage comparison with others. In those comparisons, they often “seek” to feel better , although the opposite is usually the case.
Insecurities are closely linked to complexes , although not all children who are insecure have complexes. When we talk about insecurities, we refer to preconceived ideas about ourselves that make us feel inferior, less capable, less skilled, less handsome…
That is, negative and distorted ideas, which lead children to avoid relationships, to say what they really think and, also, to compare themselves with others.
And finally, linking the two previous concepts, the childhood insecurity complex appears. Children with an insecurity complex manifest a series of symptoms, such as insecurity, low self-esteem, unrealistic ideas of themselves, distorted body image, etc.
They are children who always think that others are better than them , and who often compare themselves (which becomes a vicious circle: “I feel inferior, I compare myself with those who I think are better than me, and I still feel worse”).
How to help children who compare themselves
Do you think your child excessively compares himself to other children? Above all, with those he sees as better than him? If so, we encourage you to put some of our tips into practice:
Reinforce it whenever you can
Positive reinforcement is an ideal strategy for working on positive self-esteem . Reinforcement involves paying attention to everything your child does well (not just telling him how precious it is, but also!).
Above all, it involves praising him, highlighting his strengths and offering him lots of love for all those behaviors or aspects of himself that are positive.
Understand the cause of what happens to you
If your child is constantly comparing himself to other children, it is important that you watch and listen to him well. Who is he comparing himself to? What does he say about himself when he does it?
Does he compare himself to kids “better” than him in any way? Or with less skilled children? How does it feel to do it?
Finding the answer to all these questions will help you understand the cause of what is happening to you. And working on the cause is much more effective than working on the symptom. By understanding what is happening to him, you are closer to helping him . Now we will see how.
Make him question why he compares himself and how this makes him feel
This is easier to do with slightly older children (from seven or eight years old), since that is when they can do a greater introspection process.
It is important that your child is able to ask himself why he compares himself and, above all, that he becomes aware of how that makes him feel. To what emotions does it lead you? Anguish? Sadness? Insecurities?
Talk about what you don’t like about him
On the other hand, it is also important that your child has a space in which to talk about how he feels. It’s okay to talk about things we don’t like about ourselves, and it doesn’t have to be a taboo subject.
But from love, acceptance and validation of their emotions . “Perhaps what you don’t like about yourself today can become a treasure tomorrow, something that sets you apart, your personal hallmark.”
“Self-love has very little to do with how you feel about your appearance. It’s about accepting everything about yourself.”
Promote acceptance and self-love
And it is that this is the message that we must transmit to our children: that there will be things that they do not like about themselves , and they do not have to beat themselves up about it. It is legal for them to feel this way.
However, that rejection can turn into acceptance over time. It is a process that requires time and patience, and, above all, looking at each other with a lot of love .
That is why the positive reinforcement that we talked about at the beginning is so important; to be able to reinforce them as fathers and mothers, but also, that they can reinforce themselves, discovering how incredible they are just for the fact of existing.
“The best thing in the world is knowing how to belong to oneself.”
-Michel de Montaigne-
Photos | Cover (freepik), Image 1 (freepik), Image 2 (freepik), Image 3 (pexels)
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