How To Resist Competitive Parenting

Published on July 29th, 2021

Updated on January 3rd, 2024

How To Resist Competitive Parenting

Many parents are guilty of competitive parenting at some point or another. It is normal for parents to take pride in their children and the hard work they do as a parent. Sometimes, that can cause parents to compete with each other in some way.

While wanting to share your child’s accomplishments and talents is natural, when you find yourself trying to best other parents, you may be getting into a cycle of competitive parenting.

The Pressure is On

Pressure to be as good or better than others can cloud a parent’s judgment. There is an immense amount of pressure on parents, which is only growing as social media has a stronger influence on how we interact with others.

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Parents used to only have a few of their friends’ kids to compare to their children. Now, social media causes parents to constantly be exposed to shared posts about other children. It is easy to forget that the short snippets of posts parents share do not represent the entire experience of that parent’s journey.

Competitive parenting puts needless and excessive pressure on both the child and the parent. It can cause unwanted feelings and stress, and oftentimes that pressure is transferred to the child, who is now involved in your competition with other parents.

Example: Another parent may mention something their child accomplished or is excelling at, and you may feel compelled to compete by mentioning something about your child or pushing your child to excel at something so you have a bragging point as well. That pressure can affect your child’s self-worth, self-esteem, and confidence.

If you find yourself comparing your child or your parenting skills to others then it is important to consider your intentions when parenting. Competitive parenting can lead to displaced guilt, feelings of worthlessness, and pressure to be perfect, all of which can significantly hinder your child’s safe and healthy development.


How to Resist the Urge to Compare

Making comparisons can be hard to resist, but can help when learning how to manage competitive parenting tendencies. Use the tips below to resist the urge to compare yourself or your child to others:

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 are not going to tell you that their kid ate a bug and smacked grandma today, even though it would be relatable.

Social media posts show you snapshots of a moment in time and are not reflective of the overall quality of a parent-child relationship. It should not be a point of comparison, especially when it makes you feel inadequate or insecure.

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 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 also great and you love them just the same, even if you do not give in to the pressure to brag about them.

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. We focus on the accomplishment rather than the character-building. When we focus too much on the result and not enough on our child’s development, we lose the opportunity to teach them good character skills. We also may send a misleading message that suggests that winning is more important than personal growth and self-esteem. In the long run, your child will benefit more from feeling proud of who they are than what they win.

4. Say No

This one applies to both the other parents and your child. It is okay to say No. 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, especially when it asserts your boundaries and promotes autonomy and self-care.

5. Notice the Good

It is important to notice the good in your child without comparing them 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 does not help your child- it only stresses everyone more than needed.

Tell your child about the good you see in them without comparison. “I am proud of your hard work in dance class,” says way more to a child than “You are a better dancer than your friend”. Similarly, “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, but as long as you are staying true to your parenting intentions and working hard to meet your parenting goals, you are doing enough. You are working hard to be a good parent and you do not need to be better than others to be a worthy parent. You are raising wonderful children, and so are the other parents, so relax and enjoy the challenges and successes that come with secure parenting.

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