A World of Comparisons

It became apparent this weekend, thanks to her little sister’s birthday celebration, that my oldest child keeps a very strict mental tally of who has gotten what and when. The incredible injustice of the fact that on her birthday her little sister got a bike helmet—that was wrapped up—and she wasn’t getting anything now that it was the little sister’s birthday was mentioned about a million times on Saturday.

It did not matter that we were taking both girls to the toy store so that the birthday girl could pick out her very first bike and the sister could pick out a treat. (Let’s also skip over the injustice of the fact that she had to wait until she was 5 and her sister was getting her first bike on her third birthday.) The treat would not be wrapped up, so it just didn’t count.

I spent the day getting increasingly frustrated with her behavior, in turn baffled by this side of her that we’d never seen and horrified that I had never noticed that all along she’s been calculating and manipulating things so that she’d always come out just a tiny bit ahead. Quite a few time-outs and talking-tos took place over the course the day.

I had hoped that the end of the birthday would put an end to the calculations, but it seems that the event had just brought the behavior out into the open. Yesterday was filled with more comparisons and whines.

Just as I was about to lay on yet another punishment, I realized I was missing out on a key life lesson moment. So, instead of getting mad and preachy, I calmly tried to convey that, yes, sometimes life is unfair, but if you spend all your time comparing what you have to what other people have, you never have the energy to enjoy what you do have.

I’m sure the lesson will have to be repeated again and again, but in the meantime it seems to have sunk in and the whining has decreased. Of course all that might change when we hold the little sister’s actual birthday party.

Two little girls on Bikes

Yes. The bikes are identical in every way except size and color.

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Category: Mom Talk
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  1. Lisa says:

    I’m so glad you were able to figure out that the punishing wasn’t effective. The underlying need she has is what needs to be addressed. You might want to remind her that the “final score” isn’t in yet and that during ANY game, the score will change frequently. Knowing that something feels more special to her when it’s wrapped up gives you the opportunity to present her with little wrapped-up things all the time, what a blessing to know of one more way to show love to your child. Resistance is futile- embrace whatever she throws at you, mama!

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