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Comparisons Kill


Parents wield many weapons against their children. Sharp laced comments, insidious barbs, emotional blackmail or the deadly silent treatment. But the ammunition used again and again is Sharmaji's over achieving son. He, who has an amazing JEE score. He, who represents his school in the under 15 cricket team. He, who visits the temple every Thursday. He, who is decorous in manner and decisive in action. Well dressed, well spoken, well behaved, well informed. He, who is everything your child is not.

Parents are delusional if they believe that such thinly veiled hints will inspire their kids to reach the 'dizzying heights' scaled by Junior Sharma. In most cases there is a diametrically opposite effect. The prism of animosity will refract all the above mentioned virtues into becoming never to be emulated irritants.The child, as most children are wont to, rebels against this unwanted paralleling, and may resort to a perverse contradiction.

Of course, as parents, we want the best for our children. We are fully aware that certain habits and timely actions will yield optimal results. And the best way, the only way, is to lead by example. You want your child to be an avid reader then switch off the television and pick up a book. You want him to be curious, travel with him. You want him to be informed, discuss issues affecting his world. Take him to the zoo. Nurture a pet. Collect coins. Visit museums. Solve puzzles. Show, don't tell.

Comparisons are detrimental at so many levels. You send a message to the child that you are not happy with his current self. That your love and appreciation is conditional. That his efforts are not good enough. That he is incomplete. Comparisons close doors. They breed fear and foster hopelessness. And they kill originality.

The child internalises your expectations and starts disliking himself. He doubts his abilities and questions his strengths. He squelches his intrinsic ambitions and becomes a pale imitation of your idea of an ideal child. He will grow up to adulthood wanting the bigger car, the better house and the best children. And he will assault them by paying glowing tributes to some other Sharmaji's child.

Nip this in the bud. Celebrate uniqueness. Applaud ingenuity. Accept individuality. And encourage differences.

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