It is human nature to make comparisons. This is done, according to Mind, Body and Soul to provide a "baseline for where we are in life, and where we want to be." Comparison allows people to make plans for change and is a unit of measure to tell if there has been any personal "progress" or growth as a result of that change. Something that can be healthy for individuals to do but not for parents to do with their kids. This is why when parents find themselves saying, "But my first child did not do that," they need to nip it in the bud. This will ensure that comparative comments are not said so that self-esteem remains high, mental health is not damaged, and relationships between siblings who are friends are not compromised.

To be clear, nearly all parents will make comparisons between their children. This can begin as soon as the second child is born and parents see how they differ from the first. It can continue as children grow and parents then compare how their children behave, what their abilities are, and perhaps even what they look like. If this is done, however, it should NEVER be said to kids. This is because while they are related, siblings are their own people. They have their own unique talents and interests.

And those things should be celebrated and nurtured rather than attempting to make siblings cookie cutters of one another. Not only will this allow kids to reach their fullest potential, but they also will not have pressure to become something they are not.

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Here is what to do when you find yourself saying, "But my first child did not do that."

Siblings Should Not Be Expected To Be The Same

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The first child lays the foundation for what parents come to expect of parenthood. When siblings come along that change everything parents thought they knew about raising kids, it can throw them for a loop. Something that can inadvertently lead to comparisons being drawn, which is not fair for the older or younger siblings.

According to The Economic Times, when parents compare siblings to one another, they can actually influence who they become. This means that even if the desire was not to follow in the footsteps of older siblings, the constant comparison can leave kids feeling there is no other way to behave or no other interests to have than what their older siblings do. After all, if this is the bar they are consistently compared to, what other means of determining success do they have?

The problem with this is that siblings are not meant to be the same. They are meant to have their own unique personalities and carve their own niche in life. But if parents are not careful about keeping comparisons to themselves, per the publication, this may be something that never occurs. And instead, the sibling who feels like they cannot be as good as their older sibling will suffer in the long run.

Comparisons Can Harm Sibling Relationships

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By comparing siblings, one sibling is always going to be seen as "better" than the other. And when this happens, the relationship between siblings can begin to suffer due to the resentment of always being compared rather than just allowing each child to be their own individual.

According to Poppy & Geoff Spencer, "comparison is wired into our biological brains." As such, it makes sense that parents would compare one sibling to the other. It is when those comparisons are verbalized that problems begin. Most often in the form of sibling rivalry. This is why parents need to ensure that their comparisons never make it to the ears of their kids. Because once that comparison is heard, there is no taking it back.

When kids feel they are stuck in "rigid roles" in the family, "rivalry and resentment" can take hold, according to WebMD. And because there is already the possibility of these feelings cropping up without the added pressure of being compared to one another, adding fuel to the fire does not help the situation. Meaning that comparisons parents make should be kept close to the vest so that any sibling rivalry present can be something kids can come back from rather than following them into adulthood.

Celebrate Differences Between Siblings

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via Pexels/Elina Fairytale

It can be hard for parents to wrap their heads around the fact that even though their kids came from the same parents and were raised the same way they can be completely different people. But they are different people. And those differences should be celebrated versus something used as a comparative tool from one sibling to the next.

According to Dr. Sylvia Rimm, Ph.D., parents have a tendency to put labels on their kids. This is after a comparison is made to see the talents the oldest child possesses and the younger ones do not.

When this happens, according to the publication, there is pressure for siblings to "be the best in the family at something." This increases competitiveness between siblings, which already naturally exists.

If parents can just let kids discover who they are and not compare one sibling to another, kids will flourish. And when this happens, not only will they become their best selves for it, their relationships with their siblings will not be strained as a result of years of comparison.

Source: Mind, Body and Soul, Dr. Sylvia Rimm, PhD, The Economic Times, Poppy & Geoff Spencer, WebMD