How To Resist Competitive Parenting

Published on July 29th, 2021

Updated on March 12th, 2022

How To Resist Competitive Parenting

Most parents are guilty of competitive parenting at some point or another. You know, another parent mentions something their child did or does, and you feel compelled to compete by mentioning something about your child.

Or maybe, a friend mentions something about their child, and you start to feel guilty or worried that your child is falling behind.

The Pressure is On

The introduction of social media has added immense pressure for parents. Parents used only to have a few of their friends’ kids to compare their own children. Now, everyone on social media knows that Amanda from high school has five world-renowned gymnast children with a round-the-clock chef and tutor. The pressure to compare has increased our competition, and our need to match up.

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The day my daughter turned two, I started potty training her. Not because she was ready (she was not!) but because a friend mentioned it, and I thought she needed to be potty trained to keep up! It was a miserable experience for both of us. She took six months to fully potty train. By the time my sons were at the potty-training age, I refused to force it, even when other two-year-old children around us were being potty trained. They were both potty trained within about four days of starting. Competitive parenting puts needless and excessive pressure on the child and the parent.

I promise you, no professor in the world, has any idea which kid was potty trained first!

How to Resist the Urge to Compare

1. Turn Off Social Media

There are many reasons to consider taking a social media break, including better mental health. Another reason to turn off social media is that there is less opportunity for parenting and personal comparison! Most people are not sharing the reality of their day on social media. They aren’t going to tell you their kid ate a bug and smacked grandma today. Though they should… it would be way more relatable! They are showing you a picture of their first time riding their bike or the 30 seconds their kids got along for a sibling hug.

Social media can be a great tool for connection and mindless scrolling, but it is not a great tool for comparison.

2. Avoid One-Upping

The next time someone tells you all of the awesome things their kids are doing, try saying, “That’s great!” And that’s it. You do not have to one-up their accomplishments. It really IS great that their child is doing well, and you are probably happy for them. So tell them that it truly is great and resist the urge to add your child’s accomplishment. Your child is great too!

3. Focus on Characteristics

Sometimes we find ourselves pushing our child to do something just to say they did it or show our parenting skills. Did I really care if my child was potty trained at two? No. No, I did not. But I tortured us both to try to accomplish it! When you think of what you hope for your kids in the future, what comes to mind? Do you want them to be kind, caring, teachable, compassionate, driven, etc.?

Focus on doing things that develop those characteristics. Carting them to five different soccer teams may make them a better soccer player, but it does not necessarily make them coachable. Rather than competing to have the best soccer player, focus on having the play with the most passion or sportsmanship. The skills will come too if your child truly wants to be a soccer player.

4. Say No

This one applies to both the other parents and to your child. It’s okay to say NO, in fact, you should say no. Say no when you have too much going on and cannot take on another activity. Say no when another parent is attempting to shame you for your parenting choices. Say no when your child is begging for something because their friends have it. It is okay to say no!

5. Notice the Good

It is important to notice the good in your child without comparison to another. Your child is unique, and so are you as their parent! Notice the unique, fun, creative, wild characteristics that your child has and know that competing with another parent doesn’t help your child. It only stresses everyone more! It is also very important that you tell your child about the good you see in them without comparison. You are a fantastic dancer says way more to a child than You are a better dancer than your friend. You are a kind person speaks more to their qualities than you are nicer than her.

It can be easy to get sucked into competitive parenting with social media and pressures to have kids in so many activities. Do yourself a favor and step away from the competition. You are raising wonderful children, and so are the other parents.

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