Empower your child: 5 strategies to combat unhealthy comparison - Hindustan Times

Preventing unhealthy comparison: 5 ways to help your child see their own bright side

By, New Delhi
Feb 07, 2024 01:01 PM IST

From social media usage to setting goals, here are five practical ways to help your child steer clear of unhealthy comparisons and foster healthy self-esteem.

Growing up, we all hated that one 'Sharma Ji ka Ladka' who was good at everything from academics to sports. And this is still true today as comparisons have reached an all-time high in the age of social media. Do you ever feel as a parent that the children of other people are doing better than your own in terms of education, athletics, and life in general? It could be your kid who never gets called into the game and is the one who is constantly sitting on the bench. Or perhaps your child has academic difficulties. It can be so tempting to compare your child's achievements and abilities with those of another child. The truth is that your child is absolutely imperfect because god made them that way, and it is our responsibility as parents to help them develop their special talents, passions and abilities.

Empowering your child: 5 strategies to combat unhealthy comparison(Freepik)
Empowering your child: 5 strategies to combat unhealthy comparison(Freepik)

Comparing our children to others is a dangerous "comparison trap" that we should avoid. Finding one's place in the world is a necessary part of growing up, and it often involves finding that place with other people of one's own age. Children do this by comparing themselves to other children, and in the age of social media, this comparison can be overly harmful to them. It is important for parents to encourage their children to think positively about themselves and to develop self-esteem. (Also read: Parenting tips: Ways to limit aggressive behavior in children )

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"An adolescent in therapy said this to me “I feel very inadequate, I feel I am useless and worthless. My classmates know so much about the world, they know what is going on and not and I know nothing.” When asked why she wants to know things, does she find value in that information, or does she simply wish to be ahead of her classmates? She replied, “I want to be ahead of them. I wish to be seen as someone intelligent and knowledgeable”, says Sakshi Maheshwari, Clinical Psychologist, Niyama Digital Healthcare.

She added, "No matter how talented you are, how flawless your school records are, or how appealing you are, there will always be someone who is better than you and appears to be leading a better life than you. And it’s not just us doing it. We are every day unintentionally pushed into this process by our parents, teachers, and peers. But why do we do it? how do we determine who is superior? And why does it lessen your satisfaction if someone is superior to you in any particular field?."

"According to psychologist Leon Festinger's social comparison theory, people gauge their value by comparing themselves to other people in upward, downward, and lateral comparison. Upward comparison (where we compare ourselves to someone better than us) has turned out to be most detrimental because of the social media boom, where we are served with perfectly curated lives of others, and we fail to see the darkness behind that screen. Consequently, our mental health may be greatly impacted by this ongoing exposure to perfected portrayals of other people's lives. But there are always ways to prevent yourself from falling into this trap of unhealthy comparison." says Sakshi.

5 ways to avoid unhealthy comparison

Sakshi further shared with HT Lifestyle five ways that can help your child see the brighter side of themself.

1. Prioritize your own goals

Each of us has different dreams, goals, and ambitions in life. There may be some common paths leading to it, but the value that each of us gets from it is different. So, write down, anywhere in a diary or notepad what you want, and why do you want it. Do you find happiness and peace when you achieve your goals, or do you need external validation when you achieve something?

2. Curbing social media usage

Take breaks from social media sites that make you feel inadequate or self-conscious. Establish limits and designate particular periods for using social media. When utilizing social media, keep in mind that the content shared there is frequently a highlight reel, and that the real world may differ greatly from the representations. You can even check this for yourself from the interviews of people who have been in the backdrop or watched related movies.

3. Be aware of your triggers

Make a record of the events and situations that bring you sadness or cynicism to enhance your mental and emotional wellness. It's not just social media that undermines our self-worth. Is there someone in your life who constantly criticizes you? Alternatively, you could feel unworthy when a coworker boasts. Maybe there's a spot in particular that gives you terrible vibes, like browsing an upscale mall store. You can take steps to prevent comparisons once you are aware of the circumstances that are likely to cause you to do so.

4. Count the positives, and strengths of your life

We often tend to disregard the positives and focus on the negatives of our lives. What we lack, what we wish we had etc. Take a paper and write all the positives, blessings, and strengths that you can think about yourself. It’s okay to be humble, but you should also be proud of what you’ve accomplished and express your gratitude for these things.

5. Try using comparison to uplift yourself

It's common for you to assess yourself against other people. Everybody has moments when worries and self-doubt overwhelm them. Sometimes insecurity strikes even the most self-assured individuals. But comparison can be a catalyst for change. You wish to have something, take inspiration from the person who did so, but do it through your path, at your pace.

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