Step Refrain from Comparisons

Never compare or praise one kid's behavior in contrast to that of a peer or sibling: it can create long-lasting strains."Why aren't you organized like your friend?"All too easily, kids can interpret such comparisons as: "You think he's better than me." Here are other points to keep in mind:

• Never compare work. Kids should compare their school-work, test scores, and report cards only to their own previous work, never to the work of their siblings or friends. Instead of stimulating a child to work harder, comparisons are more likely to fuel resentment. Or they may say, "You love him more than me." It unfairly puts pressure on the child you praised and devalues your other child.

• Refrain from comparing behaviors. Never compare or praise one kid's behavior in contrast to a sibling: it can create long-lasting strains: "Why can't you be more like your sis-ter?""Why aren't you organized like your brother?"All too easily, kids can interpret such comparisons as, "You think he's better than me" or "You love him more." It unfairly puts pressure on the sibling you praised and devalues your other child.

• Stop comparing appearances. Telling your child that another child is thinner, more handsome, better groomed, or has nicer hair or dresses better can be devastating. "Maybe she could help you lose some weight.""I wish you had hair like he does."

• Never complain about achievements. Not every kid comes in first, so let your child know you're satisfied with her just doing her best. Do not say,"Why didn't you get a trophy, too?" or "How come you didn't get first prize in English?"

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