The Comparison Trap

Submitted by Robin Lea Amos

GiGi’s Playhouse Phoenix Executive Director

There is a quote that is credited to Albert Einstein “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” I don’t know if Albert Einstein actually made that comment, but it is worth pondering as a way to step out of the trap of comparison.

In my life I have been struggled with comparison. It used to be the annual Christmas letter where I read about Johnny being accepted into a prestigious college on a full scholarship and already having a paid internship or Mary being made homecoming queen and cheerleading captain and student body president. I, along with many other parents, were just grateful for not getting called into the principal’s office…again. Now those annual Christmas letters are the stuff of daily social media posts. It is HARD not to feel “less than.”

In the Down syndrome community where we are working so hard to accept and celebrate each other’s differences, it becomes a dangerous and self-destructive path when we compare. All children, regardless of their abilities, develop at different rates. Comparison accomplishes nothing positive. It most often leads to questioning our parenting or asking whether we should add more therapy or see another specialist, or, or, or. In short it makes us feel bad.

Always keep in mind:

  1. Celebrate your child for who he or she is! Journal the things you are grateful for!
  2. Recognize that your child is uniquely unique! There is no one like him or her.
  3. Look at how far they have come! Let your circle of trusted friends and family be your influencers. Ask them to remind you of the accomplishments they see.
  4. Comparison is the thief of joy. There will always be a child who is developing faster/slower or accomplishing less/more and spending time comparing our child can rob us of the accomplishments of today.

There is a cactus flower in our beautiful desert that only blooms at night and only for a very short period of time. Its fragrance is intoxicating, its bloom is stunning, but it only lasts one night. To see it, you need to look for it. You need to plan on seeing something beautiful. You need to be willing to wait until it is ready.

Learning not to compare is an intentional and focused practice. It requires us to look at the least expected and that which is not common. Then just wait, you will see something intoxicating and stunning!

Waiting for the blossoms,


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