It’s easy for students to fall into the trap of the comparison game. Social media often portrays perfection and success, but the truth is, those images aren’t necessarily reality.
And students don’t always know that.
Unfortunately, the comparison game can happen in the classroom as well, and while competition can be healthy in some situations, comparison can debilitate or squelch a child’s ability to grow or recognize progress.
Students may witness a classmate perform better than them on an exam, for example, and instead of feeling inspired, they may have the urge to simply give up.
Or worse, they’re so hard on themselves their self-esteem and confidence are in jeopardy.
So how can we, as school counselors, help our students step back and stop comparing their journeys to another’s?
Here’s some tips to get you started.
Help Your Students Come Up with A Personal Motto
Personal mantras can be helpful in the heat of the moment.
When students start feeling jealous or defeated after comparing themselves to another, students can invoke a superpower mantra to remind themselves that they have a lot to offer…and no one is like them, and that’s a good thing.
Gratitude Keeps Students Focused on Reality Not The Comparison Game
When we teach students to focus on what they are grateful for, it makes it nearly impossible to ignore joy.
If a child is upset because they don’t have a new bike like their classmate, for example, a moment of gratitude can help your student realize that there are many things (and people) in their lives that make them happy and bring joy.
And some of these things others aren’t so lucky to have.
Teaching students to incorporate a daily moment of gratitude can help build a habit of mindfulness and acceptance with oneself.
Perfection is an Illusion in the Comparison Game
Going back to the social media dilemma and how easy it is for students to fall into the comparison game…
Many times, students forget (or are unaware) that the images they see scrolling across their screens are edited to perfection.
And while it’s ok to want to better oneself, or be inspired by another person, it’s not good for a child to think there’s such a thing as “perfect.”
If that is their belief, they’ll become frustrated as they try to be something other than themselves. They’ll feel helpless when they cannot live up to impossible standards.
In a situation like this, it can be helpful to prompt students to practice flexible thinking.
When something isn’t going the way your student expected, and they wonder why it did for someone else, ask the student to focus on the progress they’ve made and celebrate those successes.
Then, ask them to think of all the other possibilities and outcomes they may achieve through their own success, and help them uncover the value in their unique journey.
Because everyone’s path is unique, and that should be celebrated.
Take a Selfie Assessment
Here’s an activity you can try with your students.
Ask your students to take a “selfie assessment” by reviewing their own social media habits.
This will allow them to put social media influencers, and friends online, in perspective because each of those people most likely does the same as they’re about to discover:
That they edit their real lives to put forth an ideal, often unrealistic, one.
For this quick activity, ask your students the following questions:
- Have you ever used a filter?
- Have you ever taken several pictures before posting the “best one?”
- Known anyone who is different in real life than on the internet?
- Have you ever posted anything online that wasn’t quite the whole truth?
- Think of the last image you posted online…did you do any of these things before you posted it?
Students don’t have to share with the class, because this can be a bit personal, but each of them can consider their answers on their own.
Remind them not to compare themselves to the edited version of others online because not many people broadcast the unsightly parts of their lives.
In reality, no one could ever live up to those rosy pictures painted online.