Every parent laments about the fact that parenting has become a kind of competition. From language lessons and private tutoring to musical and athletic achievement, the pressure is on. Parents even feel a certain amount of pressure related to their vacations, housekeeping, cooking, and weekend activities. Dial down the pressure with this food for thought.
Priorities are Key. While sports trophies and shiny medals are exciting, and good grades can be the mark of a focused child with good cognitive skills, it’s important to identify qualities to nurture in your child which are often not rewarded with medals and gold stars. Is your child respectful and kind? Make sure she understands that including other children in play, noticing and helping when someone is in need, and being respectful of other people, are all valuable and cherished behaviors. Let your child know that curiosity, effort, and a love of learning are more important than grades or awards.
Understand Why Competition Exists. It can be very easy to fall into a vicious circle of parenting competition and one-upmanship. A great way to avoid this behavior is to recognize why it exists. Many parents are a bit insecure about their parenting abilities. Some of them may think they see some of their own shortcomings in their children. Recognize that competitive behavior may not always stem from a simple desire to parent better or to raise better children, and may actually result from insecurities on the part of the parents you know. Acknowledging this may help you to avoid participating in competitive behavior.
Parent According to Your Own Standards. You may not have considered enrolling your three year-old in extra-curricular activities, until you discovered that several other families you know have enrolled their kids in gymnastics, swimming, and Mandarin lessons. If your child seems as if he may truly have an interest in these activities, by all means, enroll him. But if he seems happy, stimulated, and active, and these activities are not important to you or to him, set your own standards. Every parent has a different comfort zone when it comes to their child’s activity level, behavior, or even their number of toys and games. In addition, every parent has a different bandwidth regarding their home’s cleanliness, the number of home-cooked meals prepared per week, and the hours logged at home versus at work. Set standards that make sense for you and your family.
Have you managed to shrug off the pressure of parental competition? Tell us how you are able to manage your own standards in the comments section.