Are you worried that your child's juice-box-throwing habit or her refusal to share could be hurting her ability to make friends? Don't assume that her behavior is always to blame: Many parents are also guilty of less-than-perfect playdate etiquette. We've got solutions for some of the most common mistakes you might not realize you're making.
It's okay to secretly believe that no kid is as perfect as yours. But it's definitely not okay to announce it to everyone. I had to "lose" the phone number of a mom who constantly compared her son with my daughter. The last straw: We'd both given our babies deposit envelopes to occupy them while we were at the bank one day. As we left, my "friend" suddenly said, "Dammit! Leo just dropped his envelope and Josie's still holding hers. I thought his fine motor skills were superior." Um, hello? When you're turning who can hold an envelope longer into a contest, you need to get a hobby.
Acting this way guarantees that other parents will avoid you -- and your kid. Not only will you shrink your child's social circle, but eventually, he might think you love him just for his accomplishments. "Parents are very focused on achievement today," says Dan Kindlon, PhD, author of Too Much of a Good Thing: Raising Children of Character in an Indulgent Age. "They want to bask in the light of their brilliant kids." In other words, competitive parenting is about boosting your ego -- not being proud of your child.
The fix: The next time you're tempted to comment on whose toddler is crawling faster, "Ask, 'Why am I emotionally invested in another kid's progress?'" says Julie Holland, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry at New York University's School of Medicine. After all, you're still a good parent even if your child isn't as speedy as her pal. If you do have concerns about whether she's reaching her milestones, see your pediatrician. If you don't, replace the comparisons with actual adult conversation; talk about the novel you're reading or the vacation you want to take.