We talk a lot about the comparison in motherhood. We’re constantly told not to compare ourselves to other moms. But what about comparing our kids to other kids? No two children develop at the same rate, but we still put (whether consciously or unconsciously) pressure on our kids to meet certain milestones. Whether we mean to or not, the comparison game affects our kids just as much as it does us.
How the Comparison Game Affects Our Kids
When my son was twelve months old, his pediatrician asked me if I had started potty training. I thought, What the heck? Who on Earth starts potty training that early? To her credit, she gave me some interesting information and statistics about potty training early. But I decided he wasn’t ready, and chose to put it off.
Fast forward to a year later. I began looking around at other kids my son’s age and noticed many of them were already potty trained. I began to feel uneasy, worried that he had somehow fallen behind. So at the urging of his pediatrician and other family members, I steeled myself and began potty training.
Friend, let me tell you, it was one of the worst weeks of my life. I read all the books and blogs, followed all the recommendations exactly, and did everything “right.” But all that happened was I became incredibly frustrated when, after 30+ minutes on the potty at a time with no results, my little guy had accident after accident all over the house. And my poor husband came home to his insane wife crying on the kitchen floor. Of course, it didn’t help that our daughter decided to start her four-month sleep regression that same week, but still, it was not pretty.
Don’t Give In to the Pressure
This is not a post about potty training methods, but I use this example to demonstrate how the comparison game affects our kids. I knew in my gut that my son wasn’t ready for potty training. But instead of trusting my mama-instincts, I let myself compare his development to that of his peers. He’s an incredibly smart kid, and he excels in many other things, but he wasn’t quite ready for this particular thing.
As moms, we always feel the pressure to keep our house Instagram-ready like Lisa, do cute Pinterest-worthy projects like Susie, and attend all the field trips like Karen. And yet we constantly hear that we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others. So why would we want to project that negative energy onto our children?
No one knows your child better than you. Once more for those in the back: No one knows your child better than you do. If you’re concerned about your kid not meeting milestones “on time,” definitely talk to his or her doctor. But know that it just takes some kids longer to learn certain things than others.
Give Yourself (and Your Child) Some Grace
Motherhood is a journey wrought with worry. Worry about whether our kids are going to turn into good people. Concern that they are getting too much screen time. Worry that they aren’t eating enough veggies. Stress about grades and extracurricular activities and sports.
Instead of adding more worry and stress on yourself and your child, remember how the comparison game affects our kids. Trust that things will happen when they should. And if they don’t, there are things you can do to get your child back on track.
So give your babies (and yourself) some grace, mama. Don’t let other people make you feel bad for the speed at which your child develops. Unless you are concerned about serious development issues (in which case, speak with your child’s pediatrician), let some of that pressure off yourself and just enjoy the journey.
As for me, I decided to put a pin in potty training. I’ll try again in a few months and go with my gut when I think he’s ready. For now, I’ll just enjoy the fact that he’s still my baby for a little while longer.
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