Has anyone got experience of not doing as well academically as their siblings?

(24 Posts)

How did your parents handle it? Did it bother you?

One of my DD's has a good report but has needs to try harder all over it. She's bright enough with half and half exceeding and at expectations but is a daydreamer and has her head in a book or is drawing when she should be listening. She got B's for effort for almost everything. She's year 4 and quite immature socially.

Her elder sister ( Y5) has a brilliant report, exceeding expectations all over the place and A's for effort in everything except RE and French.
And her Y1 sister is similar- doing very well and trying hard too.

I really don't think DD2 is less bright than her sisters, she's just wired differently and I think she'll come into her own later on in secondary school. She's so upset that her report was 'as good' as her sisters and is calling herself 'dumb' which she isn't. But part of me thinks she could try a little harder to pay attention in class.

Has anyone got any experience of this? Has anyone got any suggestions of how to deal with this situation?

nextphase Wed 11-Jul-12 20:09:42

My Little Brother was the really clever one - and I'm not thick.
Rather than the absolute reports, my parents focussed on what was better / worse than the last report - ie what had improved, rather than absolute achievement levels.

weblette Wed 11-Jul-12 20:09:47

Yup, dd and ds1 both academic high-flyers, top of their year groups. Ds2 is a completely different creature. He's much slower to process ideas, handwriting appalling, way behind where they both were at the same stage. Ds3 is 4 but seems to be following the same path as the older two.

However ds2 is great at practical stuff, he's the one who can look at a flat pack diagram and work it out in seconds. He wants to be a train driver rather than a research scientist/doctor. There's no doubt he's bright, it's just a different sort of brightness!

We've always emphasised the 'everyone has different strengths' line and worked very hard with the older two to stress that academic success isn't the be-all/end-all. I like them to do activities which require alternative skills - they're all in Scouting so ds2 often shines in ways there which the others can't.

It's a very difficult balancing act to keep the 'different' child's morale up. Find something away from the academic side that she can excel at and it might help lift everything else too.

Good luck!

AngelDog Thu 12-Jul-12 08:42:39

DH had this with his sister. DH is very academic, his sister less so. His parents dealt with it by playing down just how academic DH was, and playing up how hard his sister worked. They basically told her it was okay she was less bright because she worked really hard (implying that DH didn't work hard, when he did).

When DH got his GCSE results, his sister had a really nasty shock because (a) she hadn't realised he was that bright and (b) her parents had told her he didn't put much effort in - which made it seem like he was even more gifted than he was IYSWIM. It made a big dent in their relationship.

DH was seriously mad with his parents because he'd worked his socks off and they'd told his sister he hadn't - so it had a pretty negative effect on his relationship with them too.

I think it's important not to categorise them: "You're the clever one; your sister's the arty one," whilst still recognising that they have different strengths.

I like the idea of focussing on how each child is progressing relative to their previous work, rather than on comparisons between children.

monkeybump Fri 13-Jul-12 16:52:31

I've the middle child of 5, all who were brighter than me academically. I used to joke/moan about it but it never really bothered me as I learnt pretty quickly that I could get where I wanted without top grades (I was kinda average).
If anything it took the pressure off as I knew my siblings were fulfilling any parental pride!
But when you're young it can be disheartening.. Definitely worth finding her strengths and encouraging them.

pinkappleby Fri 13-Jul-12 17:03:06

There are 4 of us, the oldest (me) and the third excelled academically, the other two less so. Second has recently told me how sad she felt as a child that parents didn't accept her level of ability/effort for what it was. She ended up doing A levels to please parents, one of which she didn't pass. She says she would have felt much happier at the technical college. Having said that she is doing very well in a professional job, that requires the degree she went on to get, that parents pushed her into and she seemed to have a great time at uni......hard one.

I would tell her that she might get better grades if she paid more attention in class. I would also trot out the lines about being pleased with her report as long as she has tried her hardest.

minipie Fri 13-Jul-12 18:04:10

Why do your DCs even know what each others' reports said? Have they chosen to share them with each other?

My sister was less academically able than me (and also than my parents who were both v academic). TBH I think my parents' approach has been all wrong - they have never really accepted that she wasn't going to get as good results, instead they have nagged, tutored, funded retakes and crammer schools etc. I don't think she enjoyed any of that. A much better approach would have been to accept that her academics were average and focus more on what she excelled at and enjoyed.

Olbasoil Fri 13-Jul-12 19:30:55

My Parents gave £1 for every A and a special meal at a restaurant for more than four A's.

I never got any money or the meal, I was left with next door while they went.

trixie123 Fri 13-Jul-12 19:43:06

My older sis was the straight A student. I did ok but had to really try, it seemed easy for her. Until we got to GCSE, when she suddenly reached a level she did have to try for and didn't know how. She's never been good at prolonged effort or failure and so stopped trying. In the end it was me with great grades and the MA, but she dusted herself off after 10 years at work and went to uni as a mature student. I did get a bit peed off with people telling me how great she was all the time.

Thanks everyone. They chose to share their reports with each other. DD2's is pretty good by itself, it only looks a little lacking when compared with DD1's. Anyhow, today DD2 got the results back from a couple of music exams and got distinctions for both, so she's cheered up a lot. DD1 is also good at music but fortunately she didn't sit any exams this term.

tumbletumble Fri 13-Jul-12 20:34:52

I was the bright one, my brother (18m older) was quite bright too but his academic results were always slightly worse than mine. My parents tried to sweep it under the carpet and mention it as little as possible, eg they would never have let us compare reports like your girls did. I see what they were trying to do, but my brother ended up feeling that things were being kept from him and I think he would have preferred more openness and honesty.

tumbletumble Fri 13-Jul-12 20:35:36

sad at Olbasoil being left with the neighbour

RandomMess Fri 13-Jul-12 20:41:40

DD1 is outstanding, DD2 works hard to be average, DD3 is outstanding and only 14 months/1 school year younger and has overtaken DD2, DD4 is pretty smart and shocked the teacher with her yr 2 sats as she doesn't usually apply herself!

I very much ask them how they think they are doing, what they need to work on and focus very much on they all have their different strengths and weaknesses in all areas of life and try and build their confidence in the activities they each choose to do outside of school.

I also avoid labelling them as the brainy one or whatever. I use the term "academically able" rather than clever because lets face it some of it is down to the way they are taught favouring some personality types over others.

I hope in years to come I've done okay with it.

mumeeee Fri 13-Jul-12 21:04:25

All 3 of my DDs are different. DD1 always excelled in her reports. DD2 was just as bright but had to work harder which she didn't always do. DD3 has learning difficulties and is not academic. We just told all 3 of them to do their best and never compared reports.

mirry2 Fri 13-Jul-12 21:08:50

My mum and dad never openly compared us 4 children in any way.

sleepingischeating Fri 13-Jul-12 22:14:10

Older brother terrible academically (no A levels, really bad o levels) next brother ok (poly drop out, quite shit a levels), I went to Oxbridge and have a masters. Guess who's the higher flyer now?! Passing exams is a skill like any other and not necessarily the best measure of intelligence. My df (step dad to brothers) came from a v academic pressurised background and probably as a result was great with my older brother (basically told him exams weren't the be all and he should find a job which made him happy). Ps I think singling out the academic ones with financial reward is very unfair.

sleepingischeating Fri 13-Jul-12 22:15:26

Too much wine - exams AREN'T the only measure of intelligence, it's a broad spectrum etc.

carve133 Fri 13-Jul-12 22:37:19

I'm much more academic than my older brother. I've got a 1st, PhD & IIRC he got 3 C passes @ GCSE and bombed A levels. We have always been close now and got on well. Looking back, I think my parents handled this brilliantly as it can't have been easy, and it was extremely obvious at school from when we were quite young. They:

Didn't compare us. Ever. About anything. I really noticed this when I went to Uni and it was apparent some of my friends' achievements had been compared to their siblings'.

They focused very much on us doing what we wanted and what made us happy. I could have said I wanted to sweep the roads and they would have supported me had that been what I wanted. I did well because I enjoyed academic work <geek>, not because they ever pushed me.

They never made a big thing of results. They focused instead on whether we had done our best. They were pleased for me when I did well but never acted pleased for themselves IYKWIM. I do remember noticing that other people's parents bought them stuff for getting so many GCSEs etc, and did sometimes feel a bit put out that they didn't get as excited as other parents, but now I'm an adult I'm glad they reacted as they did.

We did other, non-academic, activities outside school. Actually we did some of these together and this gave us shared interests and common ground. We both did well at these things in our own ways so the 'gulf' was restricted very much to academic stuff only.

My brother now earns vastly more money than me by the way!

NoComet Fri 13-Jul-12 22:39:55

I'm certain DD2 would get a great deal more fuss made of her achievements if she didn't have a dyslexic older sister.

DD1 is every bit as bright as her sister (and at truly understanding things possibly the cleverest), but her spelling is so stunningly bad that she finds writing things down very difficult and slow.

Since she was about 9 she's had to put up with a smart Alec sister, 3 years her junior, correcting her reading and spelling.

DD2 knows that smug point scoring isn't tolerated and that neither DD1 and I mind if she corrects our spelling so long as she does it nicely.

I'm far more academic than my sister and she really suffered for it. Dad wasn't nasty to her, but he never quite clicked that she couldn't do maths, particularly as easily as he and I could. She didn't like school and wasn't truly happy until she got to college.
She discovered she could touch type, something Mum who did book keeping never mastered, and that I certainly can't do.

The grown up world of work suits her way better than school and it is her who's always had a job while I'm the SAHM.

peeriebear Fri 13-Jul-12 22:59:36

Reading this with interest. DD1 (10) got a very mediocre report this week- lots of 'below expected' for effort, 'below average' for attainment. She struggles with pretty much everything academic and I don't know how to help her. DD2 is only 5 and is already a fluent reader, hitting 9s in the EYFS grading, starting to tell the time (DD1 cannot at all) and generally showing aptitude for whatever she wants to try.
I am having a really hard time knowing how to keep rallying DD1 because the less she achieves, the less she tries and it's a downward spiral. She wants to do the 11 plus- she has been entered because she wanted to do it so much- but I know she's not going to pass, which feels horrible to write down. She just cannot do the work.

joanofarchitrave Sat 14-Jul-12 04:07:42

I'm academic but less so than my elder siblings. Never bothered me because i saw how hard they had to work for it! My mother has never compared us in any way.

RandomMess Sat 14-Jul-12 11:29:32

I've come back to this and I can truly say that I don't highly value academic achievement my focus is on my dc finding out what they enjoy, and being kind and loving people. As long as their effort is good then I'm happy and would always openly say it's much more difficult to try hard at something you don't enjoy/find difficult.

Peeriebear I will pm you to see if something my dds did will help your dd.

kissingtoads Sat 14-Jul-12 22:51:34

I was the daydreamer sibling, preferring to stare out of the window or read or draw, and quite happy to do ok-but-not-brilliant even though I was capable of doing much better.

I am a non-competitive person. I think this had something to do with it (apart from the love of daydreaming) and I liked being middle of the road.

Incidentally, it was me rather than my sibling who ended up with a degree and post grad qualifications.

steppemum Sun 15-Jul-12 00:20:55

my ds is bright, and has worked hard and has a good report, (Year 4) but my dd is coming out as gifted and talented across every subject, with an outstanding report- including things like the teacher saying she was a joy to teach (year 2). We haven't shown their reports to each other but they have and it has caused trouble.

I am struggling with how to support them both. Ds is already very negative and jealous of dd, says horrible things to her and calls her stupid, ugly etc. dd is beginning to think ds is right, despite what we try to do. I wanted to shout dd's success from the rooftops to give her a boost, because her self esteem is low, but was aware that doing that make ds feel as if his report is rubbish, when it wasn't.
We don't stress the academic, but do stress the bit about effort and attitude, and try to encourage all 3 dcs in things they like in school and out.

It is really hard to balance it, and to genuinely support them all, no suggestions, just sympathy.

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