Parenting as Competition: How to Dial Back Pressure

Parenting as Competition: How to Dial Back the Pressure

Your neighbors’ kids are speaking Mandarin. Your daughter’s best friend is gearing up for her Olympic gymnastics debut. Your best friend’s kitchen is always stocked with organic foods, and she posts every healthy, gourmet family meal she prepares on Facebook and Instagram. Parenting has become a competition, and not a healthy one. Steer clear of participating in this particular competition with our food for thought.

Think About Your Priorities. Getting good grades or gold stars is a terrific goal, of course, but what is the most important thing about your child’s educational experience? Think about your priorities, and if it’s more important to you that your child develop a real curiosity about the world, work hard, and do his best, communicate that to him. The same sentiment applies to sports and other extra-curriculars. While awards and trophies are thrilling, it’s more important that your child loves what she does and continues to work to improve, all while having time to go to the beach.

Why Does Competition Exist? While some parents may encourage their kids to be the best in whatever they do because they feel it brings their children joy and positivity, sometimes, competition comes from a different place. Many parents may feel deep insecurities about themselves and their own capabilities, and may try to resolve what they see as shortcomings in their own children. This doesn’t apply to every parent, of course, but it may apply to some, and may escalate competition even further. Knowing that competition is not always the result of healthy motives can help you to avoid it.

Develop Your Own Parenting Standards. It can be tempting to hop on the bandwagon of that mom-turned-gourmet chef whose Facebook posts intrigue you. And when your children’s friends seem to have packed schedules full of enriching activities every weekend, it may seem as if you’re not doing enough to stimulate your child. But you can set your own standards for parenting. If your child absolutely loves physical activity and you think soccer or gymnastics is for her, then enroll her! But if you and your family enjoy relaxing weekends together, and your kids are growing stronger everyday eating your humble but healthy meals, then don’t push your family to be something they’re not. Every family has a different style.

As childcare professionals, we strive not to compare children or have them compete for our attention or achievements.  Each child needs to progress at their own pace and to the best of their own abilities.  If you feel like you are sometimes striving to compete, try taking a step back and look at what you and your family have already achieved, and savor it!

Have you fallen victim to excessive parental competition? How do you manage to maintain your own standards while others have clearly different ones? Tell us in the comments section!

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