A young dad came to me with concerns about his son. His friend’s 3-year-old already knew all the sounds of the letters. Plus, he was talking in full sentences and was way ahead of this young dad’s 3-year-old son.
His worry was genuine. “Are we doing something wrong?” he asked.
I recognized his concerns… he was playing the comparison game. I’d played it myself way too many times over the years.
“Comparison is the thief of joy” Theodore Roosevelt
Comparison is a common problem, and the holidays bring it out more than usual as we spend time with extended family and friends.
“Isn’t Tommy reading yet? Joey was reading chapter books when he was Tommy’s age.” (Why do people say things like this?!)
And the insecurities begin as our well-meaning family members compare our children to others their age.
Or pride can set in as our children excel beyond what others their age can do.
Comparing ourselves or our children to someone else is destructive, robbing us of our joy and peace.
We need to run our own race at our own pace and stop comparing ourselves or our children to others.
How do we stop comparing?
How do we rid ourselves of the feelings of inadequacy or pride that come along with comparison?
Remember that God created each of our children with unique abilities and gifts.
Focus on the things your child knows, on what they’re good at. Build on their strengths, encouraging them in the areas they have gifts while you continue to work on areas they need to improve. This builds their confidence, helping them grow into the person God created them to be.
I was very concerned when one of our boys struggled to learn to read. I wish I would have relaxed and focused on his strengths instead of worrying. He was quick with numbers and his math skills outshined his peers at an early age and throughout his school years. When he finally learned to read at age 9, he quickly caught up to his peers in his reading abilities.
We all learn and grow at different speeds.
If your child has a learning disability, it’s essential you don’t compare them to other children their age. They learn differently and their pace will likely be slower. Be their advocate, and when they’re old enough, teach them how to explain their learning struggles to those who might question their delays in learning too. Check out SPED Homeschool and Homeschooling with Dyslexia for help in teaching a struggling learner.
Set goals for your children using scripture to define success.
Setting goals can help stop comparison. Seek God’s plan for your children rather than comparing them to someone else’s standards and goals.
The Bible doesn’t talk about making sure your child is at the same level as their peers academically. I’m not saying we shouldn’t strive to help our children learn academics. Just remember that God defines success much differently than the world does. Does your child know and love Jesus?
Romans 12:2 ESV says “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Encourage godly character and a grateful heart.
A kind-hearted, respectful child will have many opportunities in life. I encourage you to prioritize building godly character in your children. Foster grateful hearts in your home. This helps academics go much more smoothly also.
Remember we all grow at different rates spiritually also, so guard against comparisons in this area. Pray for your children’s character and provide opportunities for them to grow. Check out this resource for building godly character: Growing the Fruit of the Spirit, A Bible-Based Unit Study.
Develop a love for learning in your children.
Getting our children excited about learning fosters academic growth in areas they struggle in as well.
What are their interests? Dogs? Horses? Science? Provide resources for them to learn about their interests. As they study these topics and share about them with others, they’re building reading, writing, and speaking skills plus they’re enjoying learning!
Field trips and games also facilitate a love for learning. MN Field Trip and Activity Library is a wonderful resources for field trip ideas in Minnesota.
Check out my blogs on using games for learning and my resource page for game ideas.
Understanding and incorporating your child’s learning style preferences also builds a love for learning. Check out my blogs on learning styles and download my free learning style assessment to find out how your child learns best.
Have a prepared answer for those who want to focus on negative comparison talk.
Coming to family gatherings prepared with a loving response to negative comparison talk can help ease your stress.
Pray for God to help you apply Philippians 4:8 daily.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Lately, I’ve been finding myself focusing on the things that frustrate or worry me rather than praising God for His blessings in my life. Maybe you can relate to this.
So, I’ve decided I want to look for God’s blessings in each day instead. I’m trying to give my concerns and worries to God more often. Of course, I do what I can to improve difficult situations, but I don’t want to fixate on my worries.
With God’s help, let’s fix our eyes on Jesus. Let’s look for things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise in our lives and in our family.
I Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”