Help junior step out of his sibling’s shadow

Raising a child who’s often overlooked, thanks to an accomplished sibling? Learn ways to help him come into his own.

Even though blood will always be thicker than water, sibling relationships can be tricky to navigate sometimes. This is especially true when one sibling seems to stand out from the rest by being better at just about everything. 

Take celebrity siblings, for example ― the world can’t seem to get enough of Beyoncé, but seem much less interested in sister Solange Knowles. Then, there are the Hemsworth brothers. Younger brothers Chris and Liam have conquered Hollywood while the eldest, Luke, is literally living under their towering shadows. Bet you didn’t know he’s also an actor, did you?

“Living in the shadows of a more successful sibling is tough, no matter whether the sibling is older or younger,” notes, Sarah Chua, a parenting specialist at Focus on the Family.

The struggle is real for these kids who constantly feel like they are being pitted against their more famous, better-looking and all-round-perfect sibling. They will grow up feeling like nothing they do is good enough. Mummy and daddy will favour their “blue-eyed boy” more than them anyways.

Worst case scenario, these kids may give up trying to succeed in life altogether. What’s the point when their brother or sister is always going to one-up them?

Because these kids feel left out of the family equation, they usually grow up with an inferiority complex and resent their siblings, which can cause rivalry. Chua points out, “They may not have a healthy relationship and not interact well together.”

Worst case scenario, these kids may give up trying to succeed in life altogether. What’s the point when their brother or sister is always going to one-up them?

Children who give up too soon on themselves have a higher risk of rebellious behaviour. They might let their school grades slip, stop hanging out with family, or engage in outrageous conduct, such as playing truant, stealing or doing drugs.

Very often, this negative attention-seeking behaviour is a silent cry for help and affection from parents. It’s also an attempt to get some of the limelight away from the “favourite” child.

A parent’s role

Your kids may look like each other and have the same last name, but they are different as night and day. As a parent, it’s your job to recognise this and not compare them or wish one was more like the other. You hold the key in creating and maintaining positive relationships and a tension-free atmosphere in the home.

“Parents play a key role in helping their children foster strong relationships and this can be done by not comparing them,” notes Chua. “Instead, inculcate good values such as unconditional love and teamwork in the family.”

It’s also important to celebrate each child’s individuality. So, inspire and encourage them to discover their unique strengths and talents. Then help them develop these strengths in order to enjoy greater success in life.

 “And remember, there are many paths to success. Parents should look beyond the usual academic success and rejoice in each child’s unique strengths and talents,” adds Chua. 

Click through to find out what our parenting expert has to say.