Giftedness and Sibling Rivalry

All families have the potential for sibling rivalry and jealousy. In families where one student is gifted and others are not, there is an even greater chance for friction. It is easy for one child to be left feeling more or less valued than another. Parents can help prevent this.

All children will feel valued when parents get to know them well, work to make available what they need in order to thrive, and show them that they are valued for the very people that they are. We each want to be loved for our essence—not for what we do, not for our looks, not for how clever we are. All of these qualities can fade or disappear. If you can get the message across to your children that you love them for their essence, you have accomplished a great deal.

Bring to the attention of each of your children his strengths, whether they are academic strengths, personality traits, thinking ability, musical talent, etc. It is very likely that they will each have different strengths and it’s actually quite exciting that they are different. While your son may be very good at math, your daughter may be a great friend. While your son may keep his room very tidy, your daughter may love the piano.

In The Do's and Don'ts for Raising Gifted Kids, by Deborah L. Ruf, it is suggested that parents not hold a child up as an example for siblings or other children to emulate, compete with, or follow. Each person is unique and abilities affect interests and goals as much and often more than effort. Comparisons might make you child tone down her abilities so as not to feel freakish or disliked. Comparisons can put other children in an untenable, unfair position.

In Tips for Reducing Sibling Rivalry, Sylvia Rimm says not to appoint your achiever to the role of tutor for your underachiever. It will serve only as a daily put-down for the other. The underachiever may not understand or be able to express those feelings. Children often say they appreciate the help, but "it makes me feel dumb."

Other articles of interest by Sylvia Rimm include

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