Source: Bounty (UK)

You’ve heard of bridezillas – those highly-strung, highly-stressed brides-to-be who spend a most of their time in tears because everything has to be just perfect? Well watch out, because now you’ve given birth you’re at risk of turning into the sequel… Mumzilla!

Do you:

  • Lull your baby to sleep with a Baby Mozart CD instead of your out-of-tune version of ‘Rock A Bye Baby?’
  • Demand a recount when your baby failed to win your local paper’s Beautiful Baby competition?
  • Rush to give your top of the range buggy away to a friend whose baby ‘still really needs it’ the moment your child learns to walk…?

If so, you’re showing all the signs of being a super-competitive mum!

    So how can you avoid sliding down the slippery slope of competitive parenting?

    • Remember boasting about your kids accomplishments says more about you than it does them. When you brag how your son could string a sentence together before his first birthday, what you’re really doing is looking for reassurance that you’re doing a good job as a parent – and perhaps making other mums feel inadequate in the process.
    • When you feel threatened, focus on the positive. Instead of wondering why your child isn’t potty training as quickly as his friend, try to remember how well he can talk and how quickly he learned his numbers. By focusing on what you child can do you’ll be less tempted to focus on what he can’t.
    • Don’t forget your child is an individual. All children develop at their own pace, and have their own particular strengths. So what if your eldest walked before or after your best friend’s child? In the grand scheme of things, a few months here or there doesn’t mean a thing.
    • Rise above the pettiness. When another parent’s boasting about her child’s accomplishments it’s natural to want to respond with something equally clever that your child’s done. Don’t. Instead, simply say, ‘Oh, how lovely,’ and leave it at that.
    • Lead by example. Playing the bragging game will only lead to insecurities in yourself and in your child, so bite your lip and have confidence in yourself and in your parenting. And above all, love your child unconditionally rather than for what he or she achieves.

    Competition has always been a hallmark of parenting, but in today’s success-driven society it’s easier than ever to become totally preoccupied with wondering how your child measures up to his or her peers. And while one of the best things about being a mum is making new friends, it can sometimes seem that these boasting parents’ number one goal is to make you doubt your child’s intelligence, or question your parenting skills.

    Before you point the finger of blame at various members of your mother and baby group, there’s a touch of the Mumzilla in all of us. But why do we do it?

    Why are we so competitive?

    Dr Alvin Rosenfeld, child psychiatrist, lecturer at Harvard Medical School and co-author of ‘The Over-scheduled Child’ says: ‘The message from all around is: “do it right from the beginning and your child will be a winner. Do it wrong and they’ll be losers and you’ll only have yourself to blame.”

    Far too much child-care advice seems to play on this insecurity and makes developmental detail seem potentially crucial. It makes us over-scrutinise our children so that instead of enjoying our child crawling we think about when it was that his cousin started crawling and compare the two.’

    Of course, there are varying degrees of competitive mum syndrome and whilst maternal pride is a natural instinct, Dr Rosenfeld’s advice would be not to be so fixated on goals: ‘Rather than concentrating on developmental goals, enjoy just hanging out with your baby and trust your instinct as to how your child is doing. If you let her know you find her more interesting then just about anything else in the world then her self-esteem will be bolstered and she’ll feel confident and happy. Kids shouldn’t be judged on every aspect of their performance in life – it puts too much pressure on them…and too much pressure on you.’

    So while it’s only natural for you to want to sing your child’s praises, don’t get so hung up on what your baby is doing and when – and then vocalising that with other mums in your social circle. ‘There’s nothing wrong with wanting what’s best for your child and being proud of their achievements,’ says Jill Curtis, of ‘But when your behaviour extends to using bullying to humiliate, intimidate and undermine the parenting skills of other mums in the playground, then you’ve gone too far.’