7 Powerful Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Compare Your Child to Others

Written by Dr Lucy Russell DClinPsyc CPsychol AFBPsS
Dr Lucy Russell Clinical Psychologist Founder of They Are The Future
Author: Dr Lucy Russell, Clinical Psychologist

Have you ever found yourself comparing your child to others?

As the saying goes, comparison is the thief of joy.

While it might seem harmless, these comparisons can deeply impact both your child and you as a parent.

This article explores crucial reasons, supported by scientific research, why embracing our children’s uniqueness without comparison is essential for their wellbeing and our family harmony.

an eight year old boy practising his handwriting at home

Reason 1: Individual Growth Rates

It’s completely normal to feel concerned if your child isn’t developing as quickly as their peers, especially if it’s an area where there is pressure from society, like academic achievements.

However, remember that children flourish at their own unique pace.

Comparing your child to others can overshadow their individual strengths and milestones.

Each child’s journey is distinct. It’s shaped by genetics, personality, environment, and personal experiences.

Your child will always have a unique set of strengths, and will be stronger in some areas than some of the “high achieving” children you may know.

Embrace and celebrate these differences. Doing so not only supports your child’s self-esteem but also strengthens your bond with them, allowing you to relish in their personal achievements without the shadow of comparison.


Reason 2: You Need to Protect and Enhance Their Self-Esteem

Every child needs to feel successful in their own right.

When you compare your child to others, it can unintentionally send a message that they aren’t good enough on their own terms.

Instead, let’s shift our focus to their personal victories.

Take, for instance, your child working hard to improve their handwriting or learning to manage their time better for homework.

By celebrating their specific efforts and individual milestones, you are reinforcing that their own personal development is more important than what anybody else is doing.

Focused praise and recognition helps them build a strong self-image and teaches them that their value doesn’t depend on outperforming someone else.

You’re paving the way for them to become a confident and resilient young adult.

a little girl proudly riding a bike

Reason 3: To Avoid Creating Unnecessary Anxiety and Stress

Constant comparison can create a stressful environment for children, who may feel relentless pressure to meet external standards.

When a child is always measured against their peers, it can heighten anxiety, especially if they struggle in areas where others excel.

For example, a child who is naturally quieter and less outgoing might feel stressed in a social setting where other children are more boisterous and outspoken.

By emphasizing their personal strengths and progress, rather than how they stack up against others, you help your child feel secure and valued for who they are.

Reason 4: To Create Self-Driven Passion

When children are constantly compared to others, their motivation can shift from enjoying activities for their own sake to trying to outperform peers.

This shift can reduce their long-term engagement and passion.

I young teen I used to work with loved painting and she was extremely talented. However, when she began the art GCSE curriculum at age fourteen and it was all about graded pieces of art, she began to focus only on how her art compared to classmates, and she lost the joy of painting. It was overshadowed by the pressure to be “the best.”

Encouraging your child to engage in activities for the pleasure and learning they bring, rather than for external validation and being the best, is the best way to a lifelong love of learning and doing.

This self-driven motivation is key to your child developing a fulfilling and self-directed life.

Reason 5: To Strengthen Family Bonds

Comparing your child to others can strain the trust and connection you share.

When children feel they are constantly being measured against their peers, it might seem to them that your love or approval is conditional on their performance.

This can create emotional distance.

Instead, focusing on their unique qualities and celebrating their individuality helps reinforce that your love is unconditional. This will boost their confidence and create a stronger, more supportive family dynamic.

two boys on a sports field running in matching t shirts

Reason 6: It’s Important For Healthy Social Relationships

When children are not compared to others, they are more likely to view their peers as companions rather than competitors. This mindset encourages the development of healthy social interactions and friendships.

For example, a child who isn’t pressured to compete can more easily celebrate a friend’s success, so that there’s a sense of camaraderie rather than rivalry.

By avoiding comparisons, you help your child appreciate the value of teamwork and mutual support. These are essential skills for positive, long-lasting relationships in both childhood and later life.

Reason 7: To Ease Your Stress as a Parent

Constantly comparing your child to others can be mentally and emotionally draining for you. The worry about whether they are keeping up can create a constant undercurrent of anxiety.

This stress affects not just you, but your entire family dynamic.

Imagine the relief of letting go of this burden.

By focusing on your child’s unique journey and celebrating their personal progress, you free yourself from the pressure to conform to external standards.

This shift allows you to enjoy the parenting experience more fully, creating a calmer, more joyful home where both you and your child can thrive.

Stop Comparing Your Child With Others

It’s hard to stop comparing, but it’s worth it.

Focus on your child’s individual strengths and set personal goals together.

Remind yourself daily of their unique qualities.

Let go of comparisons and watch your child – and your bond – flourish.

Related Articles

Embracing Your Uniqueness and True Self As Tweens to Teens: Parent Guide

Growth Mindset Questions for Kids: Encourage and Motivate (Free PDF)

Dr Lucy Russell is a UK clinical psychologist who works with children and families. Her work involves both therapeutic support and autism assessments. She is the Clinical Director of Everlief Child Psychology, and also worked in the National Health Service for many years.

In 2019 Lucy launched They Are The Future, a support website for parents of school-aged children. Through TATF Lucy is passionate about giving practical, manageable strategies to parents and children who may otherwise struggle to find the support they need.

Lucy is a mum to two teenage children. She lives in Buckinghamshire with her husband, children, rescue dog and three rescue cats. She enjoys caravanning and outdoor living, singing and musical theatre.

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