When I was trying to figure out how to start this article, I looked for quotes that capture the essence of why comparing yourself or your child to other people works against you. Most of the quotes start off with you should never compare yourself … and the rest follows. 

It seems tough and complicated to apply this in our lives, but it is really not. It’s almost like a switch in your mind. Once you realize how fundamentally different human beings are, it becomes a lot easier to move away from the idea that someone else is doing better or worse than you or your child. 

Every individual has their own journey, their own dreams, aspirations, fears, and needs. People may be similar to each other, but never the same; even twins are different from each other, despite the genetic similarity. We expect ourselves or our children to match up to excellence all the time, but that may not be possible all the time. Some skills or conversations your child may have may seem mediocre to you, but it could also be the reason for achieving greatness, if it is allowed to flourish and bloom, in an open, positive and safe environment. 

Bill Gates said “Don’t compare yourself with anyone on this world, if you do so, you are insulting yourself” 

I loved discussing this quote with my students because its such a beautiful way of saying no one else can do what you can. Each person brings a handful of things, perspectives, beliefs and ideas to the table. 

Can you imagine a world where every person is exactly the same as you? I have tried to imagine it so many times, but the thought of it makes me crazy. I know that I have a lot to offer, a lot of different ideas and notions, but if I were to be surrounded by a million people who are exactly like me, life would be so boring. 

There is so much diversity in the world, you must encourage your child to add their views and perspectives to the world, encourage them to freely explore different experiences, ideas and activities. 

The ideas that your child puts forth will not be like anyone else’s, it may be similar, but never the same. This gives children a beautiful platform to interact with people and learn from them. Your child will end up teaching other children and the people they encounter. 

Being humble enough to surrender and say I will listen and learn from you is extremely liberating. The conversations you have with your child will bloom because somewhere they will understand that you genuinely want to hear them out and take lessons for yourself. It makes it easier to have a conversation with them if you take what they say seriously despite the difference in age. 

Your child will observe how you communicate with them, which will then have an impact on how they communicate at a later stage, with themselves and with others. 

What you say to them is how they will talk to themselves in the future, make sure they understand that you are proud of your child and satisfied with who they are. Having said this, it doesn’t mean that when your child’s unwanted behaviors are encouraged. 

Compare your child to standards that they set for themselves, show your child that it is very healthy to keep working towards being the best version of themselves, by improving themselves every day. By comparing your children to others’, you are telling them that they are not good enough. 

The intention behind comparing yourself or your children is essentially to see what you can do to improve or become better at what you are doing. then intention behind this is positive for sure, but to compare your abilities with that of others is a recipe for low confidence, because someone else may not be able to do what you do. It is an unfair fight.

What would be fair though, is for you to see what you are lacking and work on it, you are in competition with yourself to reach new heights. Don’t you think this would be more effective, productive and positive? 

Effective Praise

Children are very observant and sensitive; a lot of their learning happens through observation. They take their time to understand and pick things up from their environment around them. They are able to understand a lot more than they can make sense of, for example: if a child can see that their mother is not behaving the way she usually does, the child will be able to notice the difference but not understand what exactly this difference in behaviour is.

When a child does something and comes and shows their work to you, they are able to catch what you are saying, and it leaves an impact on them. There are two ways in which a parent can praise their children, they are:

  • Empty Praise
  • Effective Praise

Empty Praise:

Empty praise refers to compliments and words of encouragement that have no context to it. They are generalized statements that can be used in practically any situation. It can be representative of any situation. Some examples of what empty praise looks like are as follows:

  • “Well done”
  • “You did well”
  • “Good job”
  • “Wow that looks great”
  • “Keep doing what you’re doing”

Effective Praise:

Effective praise refers to compliments and words of encouragement that has a context behind it, the praise is given for something specific the child has done. These statements and words can sometimes be generalized, but it is context specific, it praises and appreciates observable behaviour or actions that a child has engaged in. some examples of what Effective Praise looks like are as follows:

  • “Well done on cleaning up after yourself”
  • “You did well on your homework, I like how clearly you have written your answers”
  • “You did a good job of cleaning your room, well done for putting everything back in its place”
  • “This painting you made is beautiful, all the colours make your painting look so pretty”
  • “The way you kicked the ball was so good, you are doing really well”

Effective praise works much better than empty praise because it shows your child that you are involved and observing what the child is doing. When children are young, they are looking for approval and validation from their direct support system (family). This kind of genuine praise for things that are observable shows the child that they are cared for and understood. It makes them feel more accepted, loved and cared for, which has a multitude of long-term benefits for the child and the relationship between the child and the parent.

It creates a strong bond of trust between the parents and the child. It gives the child a sense of security and confidence that they will be okay. They will also learn that it is okay to make mistakes and fail, rather than not try at all.

By appreciating all that your child is trying to do and experience, you are showing them implicitly that you accept them completely. They are able to sense that what you are saying to them is more than just empty words.


A lot of people are scared to feel. If one is angry or sad, they may supress those feelings or decide to do something to divert their mind. This may work to a certain extent, but while your mind is focusing on other things, the emotions are festering and becoming even stronger within.

Some people I have spoken to have expressed that facing these unpleasant emotions or memories scares them, and yes, it is scary because you have to keep digging, feeling and facing the situation again and it causes a lot of discomfort.

Emotions have been categorized into positive and negative, but the way I make sense of it is the way these emotions make you feel is what has led to this categorization. Negative emotions create a sense of discomfort, while positive emotions create a sense of openness.

Image result for emotions hawkins scale"

The basic idea of this picture shown below, is to show you that when we experience negative emotions, it restricts our consciousness, however, when we feel positive emotions like love, peace and joy, it expands our consciousness.

Negative Emotions:

The negative emotions here, refer to shame, guilt, apathy, grief and fear. These emotions aren’t necessarily negative per say, but they are primitive. These negative emotions serve the purpose of protection and defence.

When you experience a stressful situation or a negative one, our body goes into fight or flight mode, this means that our body prepares to run away or fight through the situation. It is important for us to feel these responses so that our body knows that there is something we have to react to.

Ex: if your child is about to touch an iron that is on, you would scream something like “No! don’t do that!” or “What are you doing?! Stay away from that!”

The anger or fear you feel is because you are trying to protect your child from the pain. Here, anger is not a bad emotion, it is something that is helping you protect your child. These negative emotions are felt by us so we can survive in the environment, it is the natural way for us to protect ourselves and the people we care about.

However, these emotions are meant to be felt for a short period of time, this however, doesn’t happen. We end up feeling anger or other negative emotions for longer periods of time, which leads to our options being limited.

  • Our options are limited because, the nature of these emotions is primitive – it restricts our behaviour to moving away from the situation of facing it head on. We are reducing our options with which we can respond.

Positive Emotions:

Positive psychology is a field that has recently emerged, in the last decade or so, in which a lot of research has gone into emotions and their impact on us.

Dr. Barbra Fredrickson established the Broaden and Build Theory, in which she suggests that positive emotions help us broaden our horizons and then help us build on it.

What this means is that each positive emotion we feel, opens up or options for us to then build new skills. It allows us to feel more open and receptive to the challenges we face!

Think about a time when you were in an extremely good mood, or motivated. During this time, if you enter your child’s room and see how much of a mess they have left it in, it may not bother you as much, in fact you may just go and pick up some stuff and clean the room for them.

Positive emotions do more than just motivate you; it increases and expands your awareness because you are open to trying out new things. You feel more encouraged to go out and think of out of the box solutions.

The positive emotions we experience, allows us to build on our resources and think of creative solutions for problems we encounter in our daily life.

As parents, understanding the impact that these emotions have on us, will allow you to unburden yourself of the responsibility you take for your child’s behavior. Working with your child alongside these emotions will give you a newer perspective and ideas to teach them certain values and lessons that you want to inculcate in your child.

Each emotion has it’s own place in our lives, they all serve a purpose. An emotion you feel starts affecting you too much if you are not able to stop feeling that. All negative and positive emotions are important for us to feel, in some context or another. The important thing is managing them, so we can behave in an effective way.


In the month of February 2019, I decided to take up a course called Cognitive Hypnotic Coaching, little did I know, that taking up this course would completely change my life and the way I experience it and handle various situations. To do this course, we had to complete a series of various online courses, after which we had to go for classes that were scheduled.

I knew a little bit about this course before enrolling it, thanks to a few friends of mine. I was a little worried at first as to how intensive it was going to be. I told my nerves to stop scaring me and I went ahead and asked my father to pay for this course.

I got all the study material and started going through it. The first two chapters of the online module were very similar to what I had studied in school and college; I was so relieved! So, I kept reading, watching and noting down what was important for me to remember. As the nerves died – amazement kicked in and filled my whole body, because what I was studying made so much sense to me!

With every sentence I read, I could feel my mind expand. What I was studying helped me in my personal life as well. Those were some difficult times and its almost like this knowledge numbed me completely, but also comforted me – because I knew that this information is seeping into my mind and aimed to change the way I experienced this sadness I was feeling.

I wanted to write this article to explain a couple of things that really transformed the way I was thinking about everything going on in my life.

The chapter we were studying, and understanding were aspects of Neuro-Linguistic Programming. According to NLP, when communicating with someone, if we were to assume certain things to be completely true before starting a conversation, it can reduce the misunderstanding between what the person is trying to communicate and what we understand.

NLP has dictated a list of around 13/14 assumptions that we should keep in mind. I am not going to discuss all of them, I will however, be talking about a few that really made sense to me and how that can help when you are dealing with your child.

The assumptions that I always keep in my mind before dealing with myself and others are as follows (taken from the manual for Cognitive Hypnotic Coaching by ICHARS):

  1. Every behaviour has a positive intention
  2. People are always making the best choices they can
  3. The meaning of communication is the response it elicits

Every behaviour has a positive intention:

When a child behaves the way they are, it is because somewhere in their mind this behaviour has appositive reason behind it. For example: if a child starts crying after hurting themselves, the unconscious mind is trying to get the child to signal that something is not okay, and they are in pain.

  • The intention behind the crying is to communicate that there is a problem that needs some attention

Every behaviour we engage in has a positive intention behind it. Here, there is a difference between intention and behaviour. The intention will be positive and something that is there to help the child or you in any given situation, but the behaviour that you or the child engages in may not fulfil that intention in the best way possible.

This is where the next assumption comes in…

People are always making the best choices they have:

In any given situation, when a person reacts the way they do, its because in that moment they are not able to see any other way of reacting – they don’t have other options, so out of the ones they have, they unconsciously choose a behaviour that fulfils the positive intention that they have in their mind.

In simpler words, when we are faced with a situation, we unconsciously choose the best behaviour or the only behaviour we can think of, and then we react. This happens very quickly, and it is not something you have too much control over, unless you consciously decide to do so.

When a child falls off the stairs or does something that could hurt them, its natural to scream r get angry, because it comes out of a place of concern. The intention for shouting is to protect them and tell them not to pull stunts like that again, but the behaviour of shouting is probably not the ideal way to express that concern, love and need to be protective, but in that moment, out of the fear and concern, we end up shouting. The nature of the situation as such elicited that response from you because it was the only appropriate choice you had in that moment.

The meaning of communication is the response it elicits:

I love this assumption because it reminds you that communication is a two-way street. The sender of the message is just as responsible for how the conversation or interaction goes. It is very easy to say that the other person doesn’t understand you, or that you are always misunderstood by the people around you.

If you keep this assumption in mind before conversing with someone, you as the sender of a message will pay more attention to make sure the message is conveyed just as you want it. It gives you a sense of accountability for what you are saying.

If you have to convey something to your child keeping this assumption in mind, you will try various ways to explain a concept to them until they understand what you mean. If your child doesn’t understand, it is partly because you were not able to convey the message as effectively. This is what the crux of this assumption is.

Once you feel responsible for what you are saying, the way you convey a message – the words, tone of voice, pitch etc… will all be factors that influence how well the receiver or listener understands what you are trying to say.

If you keep these assumptions in mind while talking to your child, it gives you a sense of detachment because you know that what they are saying is not really a personal attack. It takes you to a neutral vantage point where you will be able to manage your emotions as well as your child’s in a better way.