Is it Okay to Compare Your Kids?

two children with parents talking

Written by Dr. John Carosso

To compare or not to compare?

Parents often quickly correct themselves after making comparisons between their kids, saying “I know we’re not supposed to do that…” It’s generally taken for granted that comparing our children is wrong.

Is it really wrong?

In reality, we compare all the time. In fact, comparing helps us to understand what’s age-appropriate and expected for any given age. Think about it, it’s easier after your second, third, fourth… child because you have a much better idea of what to do, what to expect at any given age, and how much attention and monitoring your child should need along the way. You’re no longer guessing or relying solely on advice from your mother, but also basing your decision on past experience after years of direct observation of your older kiddos. In that respect, comparing is very practical.

So when is comparing a problem?

Comparing your children is a problem when you do it outside your head. In that respect, comparing is reserved for your own thoughts, and in your private discussions with your spouse. Never let her children hear your thoughts about your comparisons between them. That type of talk rarely ends well, and usually only instills sibling rivalry. Children don’t want to hear about how their older sibling talked early, got ready for school without any prompting, practiced piano every day, and was an angel… Any such comparisons, expressed out-loud, usually results in hurt feelings, resentment and, look out in terms of subsequent fights and mayhem among the kids.

Hope that helps

In summary, comparing your children can be quite helpful and practical, just don’t do it out-loud in front of your kids. A wonderful book on the subject is Siblings without Rivalry by E. Maxlish. Okay then, here’s to happy parenting and wishing you a wonderful, peaceful, and prosperous New Year. God bless.

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Dr. John Carosso

Dr. Carosso has more than 30 years of experience as a licensed Child Clinical Psychologist and Certified School Psychologist working in private, inpatient, outpatient, residential, school, and home settings. He is Clinical Director of Community Psychiatric Centers (cpcwecare.com), a licensed Behavioral Health Outpatient Clinic, and operates both the Autism Center of Pittsburgh (autismcenterofpittsburgh.com) and the Dyslexia Diagnostic and Treatment Center (dyslexiatreaters.com).