Comparison is the maker of worries and the Grinch of mummy happiness. Stop looking over your shoulder and focus on your own little ones.
We’re all guilty of looking at the kid at the playground that seems to be the same age as our little one, watching them scale the equipment like a Cirque du Soleil performer while our monkey is sitting in the dirt too scared to climb the rope ladder. Or the child in the same class at school who is reading, writing and counting to 100 when ours is barely able to recognise their own name. It’s natural to wonder if our kids are behind developmentally, or even wondering if they’re some kind of child genius because they’re leaps and bounds ahead of their peers… but here’s a few reasons you shouldn’t sweat the small stuff too much…
They're still little – even when they're a 'big kid'
In some ways, the kids in my girl’s peer groups are all displaying the same behaviours. They all want the same thing for Christmas, they are all playing the same game over and over, they all keep begging for sleepovers even though they’re only four and it’s totes inappropes.
But today I was taken aback at my big girl’s day care graduation when one of her fellow alumni was standing on stage singing a song with her classmates and her mother swooped in out of nowhere and snatched her blankie she was clinging to out of her hands mid song. At least a dozen of the kids stopped singing and looked at their friend who stood on stage looking rather shocked and ready to cry. I know this mum was dying of a self inflicted embarrassment that her daughter was the only one on the stage holding a comforter, but as someone who witnessed this not so stealthy act – I can honestly say I didn’t notice or care that her child had a comforter. And frankly she only highlighted the fact by snatching it in the middle of the performance. People were talking about it after the performance, when I’m pretty sure nobody would have been discussing the girl on stage with a blanket had she left it alone.
My point is… you might think it’s embarrassing and that it’s time for your child to grow up, but just remember they all have something that’s a bit less developed or a bit more developed than their peers. It’s certainly something you can work on gradually, but don’t ruin the moment by worrying about something they will eventually outgrow.
They all develop at different rates
I have two girls so it’s hard not to think back to when our oldest child was the same age as our youngest and compare where they’re up to developmentally. Pretty quickly after having your second though, you start to realise, the DNA might be pretty similar, but the kids are different. They have different personalities, different mannerisms, different developmental milestones… and it’s okay! They’re both growing up beautifully, so what does it matter if one spoke sooner, and one crawled faster, and one is braver than the other?
They’re individuals and they will need to be nurtured differently at different times in their lives. Funnily enough though, we seem to be able to accept this when we’re comparing siblings, but when we start comparing with our friends kids… hold.the.phone!
Why is that baby putting puzzles together on her own? And how come he can name all the colours he’s looking at?
Cue panic alarm! But let me stop you right there. We all spend our time teaching our kids different things. We might notice they have a particular aptitude for arts and crafts, or that they really seem to enjoy playing ball games and have a mean pitch up their sleeve… and then we encourage them to keep going with that activity until it looks to outsiders looking in like *gasp!their kids are falling behind. Instead of worrying about what little Jake can’t do… start thinking about all the things he can do and focus on the things he’s interested in!
You're probably the only one who cares
Think about it logically for a moment – who in the room cares more about your child’s accomplishments than you? Probably nobody. We went away with friends for a weekend and one of our friends who has a child that is 7 months older than our youngest, spent the weekend ripping the dummy out of her mouth. She is a very shy child and we don’t see them often so in a house full of strangers, she wanted her comforter. We kept saying ‘just let her have it…’ but we could see it was a major bone of contention for them and they were embarrassed that their almost 3yo was the only one in a house full of children with a dummy. But like I said before in the ‘Great Blanket Snatching of 2016’, nobody else noticed or cared. We all have our own concerns about our kids, and in both cases, nobody would have recalled these kids with their comforters except that the parent’s clear embarrassment highlighted it to us all.
So next time you’re feeling like everyone is judging your parenting via your child’s social or academic achievements – just remember, you’re in good company and we all have something we’re worrying about.Try not to overthink the situation. After all, I’ve never seen a high school kid carrying their blankie or wearing their dummy at school….