Comparison Isn't Motivation: When Will Indian Parents Learn?

Parents feel that comparison will help children and motivate them but instead, it demotivates them and could also lead to the development of a sense of inferiority.

Devanshi Batra
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Did it also happen to you that Sharma Ji ka beta and Mishra Ji ki beti were heavily featured in conversations that your parents had with you, even if they were not a part of your life or family? I know, because this is my life even today.

Every child has one such character in their lives- the 'ideal kids' that our parents keep taunting us about, always praising their achievements while scrutinising our failures, or rather, lack of success. The high regard for academic excellence and the amount of importance attached to it by society overburdens students in almost every Indian household. Parents tend to develop unrealistic expectations and when these expectations are not fulfilled by children it leads to criticism and comparisons.

Instead of focusing on their child’s growth and progress and providing them help if needed, Indian parents often compare their children to other children and judge them for not fulfilling their expectations. Why can't you top the exam like him? Why can't you write neatly like your classmate does? Parents feel that comparison will help children and motivate them but instead, it demotivates them and could also lead to the development of a sense of inferiority that is detrimental to their wellbeing.

Indian parents comparing children: A harmful practice

Children are constantly pushed to the edge by their parents to build a bright future ahead and succeed in life which according to them is possible only by being better than others- be it in studies or extracurricular activities. The enormous pressure due to constant comparing inculcates self-doubts amongst students and they start feeling that they won't be able to do anything in their lives. They lose hope and the will to improve or do better. Children start thinking of themselves as 'losers'. This leads to loss of motivation and they start seeing success as something which cannot be received. Thus, what parents think will motivate students to study hard for a successful life instead demotivates them!

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Comparison and Honor

Many might recall how they were told by their parents, "Agar tum kam marks lae to beizzati ho jaegi. Rishtedar result poochhenge to hum kya bolenge?" This attachment of 'izzat' or 'honor' to their children's marks is not a new way of pressuring children.

If you score less than your uncle or aunt's son or daughter then you are bringing shame to the family. Parents set the bars so high just to stand out in society. They are too concerned about how the world would perceive their children and eventually, them as parents. It seems as if parents educate their children, provide them with tools that could help them perform better, simply because they want the bragging rights that come with a good rank or high grades.

Anxiety, Stress, and Mental Health

Parents keep on pushing the boundaries for children which leads to stress, disappointment, anxiety, and even suicide. In a study reported by India Today conducted on 190 students from grade 11 to 12 from three private schools in Kolkata and three government-aided schools, it was found that almost two-thirds of the students experienced pressure from their parents to perform better academically. Constant comparisons also lead to sibling rivalries, instill detachment, and sometimes hate and resentment towards parents. Discouraged by parents students then tend to develop mental health issues and anxiety levels often shoot up! This also leads to children losing their unique talents and leads to diminished self-worth.

Its high time parents understand that every child has unique talents and comparison prevents these talents from blooming. Parents should celebrate their children's achievements, uniqueness and efforts rather than where they stand in comparison to other reason, if they do not want to endure resentment from their kids for the rest of their lives.

Views expressed are the author's own.

children and parenting Indian parenting