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The one damaging habit every parent needs to avoid

Comparing our kids to their peers is natural, but it can be damaging

My toddler's toilet training can be patchy but he knows how to unlock the front door, and can snuffle out the packets of raisins no matter where I hide them

We enjoyed some rare child-free time this weekend and whilst walking in the sunshine down to the pub, I spotted a little girl who looked roughly the same age as our eldest riding a bike (without stabilisers), and immediately turned to my husband and said "we really should get him out on his bike and teach him to ride". He pointed out quite rightly that we don't know how old the girl is. But it raised a bigger question for me; why do I impulsively compare, and is it a healthy habit to have as a parent?

Its natural to compare and it can be a good thing; it can give you a nudge to nurture a developmental step, or it could reassure you that your kid is on track (just not on the bike track). Yet it can often cause problems. As a new mum I found myself worrying that the baby who was three weeks younger than ours was already rolling about in the Under 1s group. Writing that down now I think I was ridiculous to compare children that young, and to worry about it. But at the time it felt a big deal, and an unwelcome product of baby-parent groups designed to be supportive and friendly. I've found some baby groups can have a competitive edge to them, and I also suspect that some of the parents bend the truth every so slightly. It's natural to be proud of your baby, but is little Isabella really reciting the alphabet at six months? Is young Hunter really making his bed at one? Did Timothy actually do your tax returns this fiscal year? (Although to be honest he'd probably do a better job than me). Be aware that parents have beer goggles when it comes to their own children, and take it all with a pinch of salt.

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