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To ask for advice to help DD3 not feel academically inferior to her sisters.

(33 Posts)
jonesthegirl Mon 08-Feb-16 16:41:53

A bit of background DD3 15 year 10 has always felt that she is academically inferior to her two elder sisters, despite also passing her 11+. This is because both her sisters achieved 10 A* stars at Gcse DD1 now a 2nd year Chemistry student at Cambridge. DD2 yr12 doing the IB wants to follow her sister to either Cambridge or Oxford. DD3 by contrast will have to work hard to get in to her Sixth Form that reqiures B grades and the odd A grade.

Headofthehive55 Mon 08-Feb-16 16:52:06

I have a similar issue. We talk about her good qualities and I big up work experience, and other jobs.

I'm not too worried these days As I can see that fabulous results don't always translate into wonderful jobs, or happiness.

I recently got her to get some work experience, so she did her cv etc and we concentrated more on her qualities rather than academia.

MrsTerryPratchett Mon 08-Feb-16 16:52:44

What are her passions, what is she good at?

JessicaJones Mon 08-Feb-16 16:58:27

Well, she is academically inferior to her sisters. I think to try to pretend differently would make her feel patronised. But that doesn't mean she is inferior as a person. Academic results aren't the be all and end all. Learning to work hard has its own value. And 'success' comes in many different ways. She can have her own life with her own successes and happiness without duplicating what her sisters have done.

whois Mon 08-Feb-16 17:01:25

Agreed that academically she is 'inferior' although that's a bad way of thinking about it.

I would just focus on different people are better st different things and being super academically doesn't automatically equate to better job / happiness / future. Emphasis that hard work and dedication are what get people further - employers would much rather have someone who is 'clever enough' and works hard and is sensible and trustworthy, proactive and enthusiastic.

Hihohoho1 Mon 08-Feb-16 17:05:35

Focus on what each child is good at and never compare.

At a friends reunited get together the cleverest girl in our class had suffered a breakdown, divorced and unemployed.

Life is what it is and brains are a very very small path to happiness or well being.

StillMedusa Mon 08-Feb-16 17:09:24

I had this with mine... only it was DS1 sandwiched neatly a year between two very able sisters.. both who got stellar A levels and degrees and now in fab jobs.... and he only got his GCSEs because I pinned
him to the kitchen table for the 3 month prior to the exams. (He was also bone idle!)

BUT he can pick up a guitar and play...writes his own music and play pubs in the evenings after his day job..he did a BTEC and found a job in social care that he enjoys. His sisters adore his musical talent and are both genuinely envious of it, and of his easy going nature and laid back approach to life. He did used to say that it wasn't fair that he wasn't clever like them... and we used to reiterate that everyone has their own abilities... and being 'academic' isn't the be all and end all.

Now they are in their decent but tough jobs ( NHS) and he's off backpacking round Oz next week... saved, earned it and is off to experience some life! They are both envious of what he's doing..and I'm sure he will learn more skills along the way. His successes are different from his sisters but no less valid..and now he's 23 he realises that.

Pilgit Mon 08-Feb-16 17:11:49

Good academics do not translate into success in life. My dad always said that success is 99&% perspiration 1% inspiration. Working hard for her results will be of great benefit to her long term - things won't come easy. The number of people I watched wash out at uni as they'd had it easy all their life and suddenly couldn't cope with the hard work was amazing. Also academic success is easy to quantify but her skills - e.g. perseverance, hard work etc are not so easy to measure so

Skiptonlass Mon 08-Feb-16 17:21:06

Without wanting to sound like a twat, I'm very academic. A grades, 3 degrees, first in double honours, masters, PhD blah blah..

From the position I'm in now, I can, hand on heart, tell your daughter that past a certain point, intelligence is no longer correlated with success.
You need to be bright enough and with As and Bs she is. But what you really need is what I call stickability - the ability to keep working, to pick yourself up and to carry on.
It's an unpleasant truth that the very bright sometimes don't have this skill because they find everything so easy - and it is easy up to degree level. But then real life is not like school and uni. There's no feedback in the form of exam results and no glowing praise for being smart. I had to learn this.

I suggest you buy her a copy of a book called 'bounce' by Matthew syed. There's another book I've read that's similar but it's not springing to mind just now (sleep deprived due to baby.)

Past uni graduation, grades become less important and temperament/resilience/ people skills and stickability take over. If your daughter has those, she will do well. I wish her luck and I'll try to remember that other book!

LeanneBattersby Mon 08-Feb-16 17:30:02

skiptonlass is right. Go into any workplace. The real high-fliers are not usually those who got straight A*s. Good grades give you an initial leg-up but in the workplace it's every man for himself and those who have had to really try, those who have made a massive effort to be there, are often those that do the best.

minifingerz Mon 08-Feb-16 17:32:39

I'm the thickest one in my family. My brother's got a doctorate in molecular biology and my sister won every prize going at school. She is good at EVERYTHING.

I really don't feel inferior as a human being. My sister has no common sense and terrible taste in men. My brother is spineless and lacking in confidence. <disclaimer: I adore them and they are lovely people> I, weirdly, have lots of confidence (totally unrelated to my appearance or professional success or lack thereof ) and a lovely husband. I know whose shoes I'd rather be standing in...

Atenco Mon 08-Feb-16 17:33:50

My brother is the intellectual of my siblings and he was one who found school the hardest of all of us.

I totally agree with Skiptonlass about skickability. The daughter of a friend of mine failed the entrance tests for three private primary schools and successively through secondary and high school (we are in Mexico), now has a Masters Degree with an Honourable Mention. So many people fall at the first hurdle in life.

Another friend's son was bottom of his class until he was fifteen and then suddenly shot up to the top and stayed there right through his Masters.

MissFlight Mon 08-Feb-16 17:41:53

The trick is not to make comparisons and to celebrate the skills she does have. Some people are more practical and better suited to college rather than 6 form or an apprenticeship.
My dd didn't enjoy school and went straight to work at 16 and has worked her way up to a senior position and earns more than her siblings who took the academic route.

Headofthehive55 Mon 08-Feb-16 17:42:09

Research has been done into what makes people successful in terms of employability. They found lots of correlation with emotional intellegance I.e. Getting on with people and much less with academic success. That's why schools started bringing in programs trying to build these skills.

My daughter has a similar thing with her friends, particularly one at Oxbridge. However, I know which one you would pick for your team, and it's absolutely nothing to do with exam grades.

jonesthegirl Mon 08-Feb-16 17:45:50

Thank you all. It has always been a problem, i remember dreading what DD3 would have felt like if she had failed her 11+....

Recently though she has become more anxious in comparing herself with her sisters academic success and believing that she is the thick one out of my 4 children. DS year 8 has Aspergers and Dyspraxia diagnosed from 7 years old so did not take the 11+ but he is probably more academic than DD3. I am concerned though because DD3 is now begining to show similar traits to DS questioning whether she also has High functioning Autism. this has only recently started to show as previously, i think she coped with the workload required. The constant self pressure she puts on her self might cause her a breakdown if she does not chillout or relax. (this despite me believing she is in the right school)The problem though if she does not get in to the Sixth Form she will be heartbroken....

I know how difficult it is to get an assesment of Aspergers or other HFA symptoms for 'bright' 15 year old girls. However, i think she will need support in Sixth Form and possibly DSA in Higher Education.

At the moment though i am trying to play down the academic difference between the girls and highlight to DD3 that she is better at Sport or running than her sisters ETC

SovietKitsch Mon 08-Feb-16 17:48:47

One of my sibling group appeared at school to be noticeably less academically able than the others. My mum was well aware of this, and did everything in her power to find my siblings strengths (which are considerable!) and nurture her talents which may outside the typical academic field. She went on to be very successful, not least because she had drive and confidence in spades, and you would never be able to say as adults who had apparently had the less successful school career.

Play to your strengths, that was my mum's motto - do the things you enjoy and are good at. So my advice would be, look for your daughter's talents and nurture them!

Iliveinalighthousewiththeghost Mon 08-Feb-16 17:49:54

Not everyone is academic. Your dd's skills are obviously somewhere else, eg She might be a fantastic worker hands on and practically.

Proginoskes Mon 08-Feb-16 17:52:14

jonesthegirl Does your DD3 happen to be good at 'creatives' such as creative writing, art, crafting (knitting, crochet, tatting, sewing/quilting) or music? Or hell, even building fuckoff great big castles out of Lego - not even kidding, if you've ever tried to put together one of those blasted sets that say "ages 8-15" on them and had to resort to wine wine wine half way through (or maybe that's just me) you can see what an achievement the huge constructions are.

If she finds a talent and a "voice" through any one or more of those it could be a real ego-builder for her because not only will she have the feeling of having created something beautiful, but it's also something tangible she can look at if she gets to feeling "less-than" her more academic sisters, you know? She could say to herself "Fine, but can YOU make lace?" (or whatever she does).

cookiefiend Mon 08-Feb-16 18:00:46

Try to get her to focus on the non academic pleasures in life. The best advice I was ever given is that life is not a race. You don't have to be the fastest or the brightest to do well. What is important and what schools seem to overlook is that your goal in life should be happiness and not a degree or well paying job. Yes you need to be able to support yourself, but she can do that without being a genius. I am academic, good job always very driven etc and it wasn't until I had my first child that I really started to see the joy in the world around me as I was far too focussed on "doing well".

colourdilemma Mon 08-Feb-16 18:09:01

I think the key to this is not to focus on being good at stuff, but on enjoying things. This doesn't mean that achievement isn't to be valued, but if the goal is to gain enjoyment and be proud of personal achievements, rather than being better in comparison then it might be more healthy.

colourdilemma Mon 08-Feb-16 18:10:56

Sorry-realise previous poster had said the same thing better! I had the school experience of doing stuff basically for cv purposes and its taken me a long time to shake the idea of being good at something and doing it for a reason other than enjoying it for its own sake.

JeanneDeMontbaston Mon 08-Feb-16 18:47:33

I agree academic issues aren't the be-all and end-all.

But she is still pretty young - it's hard to say that she's 'academically inferior'. She may be so now, but that could all change.

At her age, my brother was looking as if he was going to get Bs and Cs at GCSE, maybe a few As if he was lucky, maybe Ds if not. My older brother and I looked much more 'academic'.

Fast forward, and it's younger DB who got the first class degree!

You don't know how she'll be later on. Especially when there are issues with dyspraxia or Asperger's, which give her a much harder fight. I think achieving as she does with those pulling her back shows a huge amount of tenacity.

What2 Mon 08-Feb-16 18:55:10

I had this with DD2. Her 2 elders brothers and her sister are naturals and she isn't. It was obvious from an early age as her sibling would always be winning awards and she didn't. I don't know if it was the right thing to do but I always refused to let them compare themselves to each other. I'd tell them it was a pointless exercise and they should just be concerned about themselves. I think it worked out ok although I occasionally get a comment from one or the other of them even though they get on well and are supportive of one another.
They are all at Uni now and, fortunately, my youngest managed to get into a similar high ranking Uni like her siblings - however she had to work extremely hard to get there. She was totally bloody minded self motivated. I think she was working for herself but I suspect there was a little bit of her trying to prove that she was as good as her siblings. It's not rational but I don't think 16/17/18 year olds are rational wink

We always praised effort and other non- academic qualities such as manners and kindness.

I was the bright one out of my family but as both of my siblings left school without any qualifications it's not saying much winkblush

TheLittleFoxes Mon 08-Feb-16 18:59:41

I did very well academically but lacked the confidence and drive to succeed in the work place. I see old friends from school on Facebook with fabulous careers and they weren't as able as me.

That's not to say I'm unhappy, just reinforcing what others have said, academic ability isn't everything, although it may seem that way when you're 15. Help her find her strengths and build up her confidence in herself as a person.

Mistigri Mon 08-Feb-16 19:13:04

Academic success isn't everything. What's she good at, what are her strong points, at does she like doing?

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