Watch Your Words! Here's The Positive Way To Use Comparison To Motivate Your Child According To An Expert'When kids are always told that others are better than them, that they lack discipline, control, or ambition, they can internalize these labels and live their teen and adult lives to be so.'by Dahl D. Bennett . Published Oct 24, 2022
You only want the best for your child but by comparing him/her to someone else, is your parenting style benefitting him/her at all?
If you find yourself resorting to comparisons in the hope of pointing out a consequence of a bad behavior (i.e. “Gusto mo bang matulad sa pinsan mong drop out at walang direksyon?”) or to inspire a desired behavior in your child (“Gayahin mo seatmate mo, walang lampas sa pag color niya.”) then you might be in for more setbacks than gains.
Comparisons can lead to mental issues
When parents resort to comparisons, children may may feel stressed and pressured to meet the expectation of their parents, says Dr. Gail Galang, chair of the Family Studies program of Miriam College and a faculty at the College’s Department of Psychology. “The constant taunting of the inner voice, ‘I have to!’, ‘I must do it!’ or ‘I should be better than others,’ is just too tiring and overwhelming to deal with every day. Such kids are candidates for mental health issues later on,” she says.
'When kids are always told that others are better than them, that they lack discipline, control, or ambition, they can internalize these labels and live their teen and adult lives to be so.
Sometimes, parents feel that they lack the resources to practice a better way of reinforcing good behavior in their child and resort to comparing but the consequences can run deep especially when the goal is to make the child more competitive.
The downside is that the child may carry these comparisons up to adulthood, points out Dr. Galang. “When kids are always told that others are better than them, that they lack discipline, control, or ambition, they can internalize these labels and live their teen and adult lives to be so.”
However, when done correctly, using comparison to point out a positive behavior can be beneficial for a child. “Young children learn through observation and imitation,” points out Dr. Galang. “Children can definitely learn desirable behaviors, if they are exposed to positive models of behavior.”ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
If parents have found positive models for their children to imitate, like another sibling, a cousin, or a friend, they can focus on the ‘rewarding consequences’ of that behavior, says Dr. Galang.”
For example, to encourage a child to eat more fruits a parent can say, "Wow, you tried to eat apples, like Ate, that's really very good! You'll both have shiny hair when you continue eating fruits like that."
'Catch your child doing good and reinforce the good behavior rather than discouraging them by comparing them to others.
In using comparison, the trick is in the approach. This approach includes using the right words, avoiding labels, and nurturing your child’s unique gifts and talents, among others. Dr. Galang sums up this approach with the acronym WIN-WIN (Read the article here.).
She also gives these situationers, coupled with helpful conversation alternatives that parents may use to avoid resorting to negative comparisons and bring out the desired behavior in their child:
How to use comparison in a positive mannerCONTINUE READING BELOWwatch now
1. Emphasize the benefits of the desired behavior
Instead of saying: "Tingnan mo ang kapatid mo, may disiplina sa oras. Ikaw, lagi kang late matulog!
Say: "Your mind needs to rest so that it can function better the next day. Try to see if your sister's sleeping time will also work for you."
2. Acknowledge that you understand their needs but encourage reasonable boundaries.
Instead of saying: "Ang tigas ng ulo mo! Wala ka nang ginawa kung di maglaro online."
Say: "I know playing with friends is important to you. I allowed your brother to play after doing his homework. So that I can be fair to both of you, what time should you start playing and until what time?"
3. Emphasize that there are rules sacred in your family and must be respected.
Instead of saying: "Ang tagal mong tawagin para kumain. Kailangan ka pang tawagin ng kapatid mo nang paulit-ulit."
Say: Dinner time is the only time we can be complete as a family. Let's try to drop everything and eat together by 7:00 PM."ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
4. Plant the seeds of having a goal.
Instead of saying: "Ang gastos mo! Tingnan mo yung pinsan mo, ang daming pera na naiipon."
Say: Wow, makakaipon ka nang maraming pera if hindi ka basta gagastos. What are you saving for?
5. Catch them doing good and reinforce the beahvior.
Instead of saying: "Ang sungit mo! Tingnan mo si Kuya, laging nagsasabi ng po and opo."
Say: I like it when you say ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ I’m so proud of you.
While parents try to navigate new ways to bring out good behavior and use positive comparisons, Dr. Galang warns of encouraging one child by making another an example of bad behavior.
Saying things like, "Don't copy your brother. He likes to say a lot of foul words. I never liked him for that" is a sure way to impact one child negatively while uplifting the other.
“This type of comparison offers no help to your other child. It leaves one child thinking that a sibling is misbehaving so badly, and this may affect sibling relationships later on,” she says.
“Watch your words because it becomes your child's inner voice,” Dr. Galang reminds parents.
Dr. Gail Reyes Galang is chair of the Family Studies program of Miriam College where she also teaches under the Department of Psychology. She is currently the associate director of the Center for Peace Education. Follow her on Instagram @gailfrancesgalangADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
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