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Siblings without rivalry – Chapter 3: The perils of comparisons

Avoid comparisons.
It sounds logical… We probably won’t say « your sister do that better than you », or the other way around, and I think I could have said that in our house, we don’t compare.
But I realized it can be more subtle than that…
Sometimes we compare when we have strong feelings:
« Your sister has been in the car for 10 minutes, and you’re still not ready! »
Or to encourage them to act as the big one: « your brother can’t do that because he is still little, but you’re a big boy! »
Try to develop cooperation rather than competition.

That’s so true! How can we explain this:
The other day, we arrive at dance class, and I ask Alice (8 years):
« Did you think about your dance shoes? And your books for the French class afterwards?
Great! You’ve organized well, you’ve thought of everything without me telling you anything! »
Her answer:
« Oscar (13 years) would have forgotten everything, even if you told him! »
That might be true… But why does she need to make that comparison?
Do we need to crush others to feel good about ourselves?
That’s what I’d like to change…

So, following what the book says, I now spread the message at home that we do not compare. « Oscar is Oscar, Alice is Alice, one has nothing to do with the other! »

The key word: describe!
Describe what you see, what you like, what you don’t like, what needs to be done.
None of what her brother does has anything to do with her.

On a ce cas dans la maison avec le piano :
Alice a beaucoup, beaucoup de mal à s’y mettre. Est-ce que le fait d’avoir tant entendu que son frère avait décollé l’année dernière et qu’il était doué ne la freine pas encore plus ?

Let’s also note that the comparison can be harmful even when it is positive: as with roles (that we addressed in Chapter 6 of How to talk so kids will listen…), it imposes a standard which can be difficult to maintain. Besides, it can encourage the fact to criticize each other to keep the « good » role.
In the same vein, it is sometimes better to avoid to compliment a child too much when the other one is present…
I think we have that problem at home with the piano:
Alice has a very very hard time to practice. Doesn’t hearing so much that her brother’s playing really took off last year and that he was gifted slow her down even more?

Back to the book post

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