The Dangers Of Competitive Parenting

There is no winning in parenting, yet it can often feel like a competitive sport as we battle it out in the playground that is parenthood.

As much as we try, there is great difficulty in avoiding comparing ourselves to other parents at the school gates. We can subconsciously find ourselves competing in the high ranks of who is getting the job done better, calmer, and on a budget. Competitive parenting is not helpful or healthy when it comes to doing our best and aiming for "good enough" in our parenting lives.

So, what can we do when we find ourselves competing in an arena that is not good for our mental well-being?

Are You A Competitive Parent?

It’s not always possible to notice when we are participating in the game of competitive parenting. You may find yourself competing if:

  • You correct your child's mistakes
  • You set unreachable goals for your children
  • You get frustrated when your child does not reach their supposed potential
  • You boast about your child's achievements
  • You compare your children to others

The Dangers Of Competitive Parenting

Along with the negative impact competition can have on our mental health, competitive parenting can have a significant impact on our kids and their mental wellbeing too.

We put them at risk of not matching up to the ideal standard we set for them or for our family life. They watch everything we do and learn by our behaviours. As they watch our competitive nature rise, they may:

  • Have diminishing self-worth and actively self-doubt their abilities and achievements
  • Resort to cheating, lying, and manipulation to achieve a goal
  • Have heightened fear, anxiety, and poorer social interactions as a result of not feeling "good enough"

Avoiding Competitive Parenting

We all have our own standards to maintain when it comes to parenting. Avoiding competitive parenting means aligning our values and goals in life with what we truly believe in and not being influenced by others.

Be Self-Aware

Recognise the behaviours and actions we engage in that may negatively impact on our wellbeing and that of our children. Behaviours such as comparing our children with others, pushing them, and us, to over-achieve, and not allowing ourselves to be the person we are, are damaging behaviour patterns.

Be Appreciative

Appreciate your children and yourself for who you are. Praise your children for what they do, their efforts, their talents and abilities, and for being the person they are.

Avoid Comparison

Remember that everyone's life, experiences, and situations are different and cannot be compared to. Try to become aware of the things that trigger you into comparison mode. It could be a certain person who continually brags or makes you feel inferior, or scrolling through Instagram.

Geraldine Walsh

Mum of two Geraldine Walsh happily works from home as a freelance writer chatting about parenting, wellness and mental health.

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