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egos and smart alec little brothers..

(6 Posts)
ilikemysleep Sun 03-Feb-13 21:48:21

I have 2 sons. Eldest is maths and science bright and has aspergers, and isn't a threat as he's older and 'different' anyway.

Second son (age 8) is totally different. He is not great at maths - average plus - and has lots of good ideas for writing, but tends to need to prune it down a bit. However he is fantastic artist and a very funny kid, got great natural timing.

Third son (5, year 1) is very clever indeed. He is in the top 0.5% (I do IQ tests and have to try out new ones on my kids sometimes) and good at everything, but especially maths.

Trouble is, third son is kind of better than second son at lots of things. He is better at computer games. He is better at maths. he is also too young to see how painful it is for DS2 when DS3 is doing stuff better and quicker than he can. DS2 is exceptionally sensitive and I see him closing down. For example there are certain computer games he just won't play now as DS3 has gone way past where he had got to and he couldn't cope with the humiliation of not being able to be as good as his little brother. DS3, for example, invariably comes first in every race on Mariokart Wii and is better than my husband at it. When I asked DS2 if he was worried that his brother was better than him and if that was why he wouldn't play that game any more, he cried and cried. He cried when his brother answered a maths question at the table before he could (I was asking DS2 a times table question. DS3 hasn't even been taught them, but he worked out what 9x8 was faster than his brother).

How has anyone else handled this? I have pointed out that DS2 is by far the best at drawing. I have forbidden DS3 from playing one particular computer game that DS2 found and started playing; I have told him that game is just for DS2.

Should I have a little word with DS3? I don't want him to feel like he can't stretch himself for fear of upsetting DS2 - he definitely isn't deliberately trying to upset him, he just loves learning and I don't want to crush that in him. What has anyone else done?

ilikemysleep Sun 03-Feb-13 21:48:46

D'oh. First line should say 'I have 3 sons'.

sashh Mon 04-Feb-13 03:06:29

I think there is a tendency to see good at maths as bang clever and being good at other stuff not as important.

You need to tell DC2 that DC3 is not the norm, usually big brothers are better at things but sometimes it is little brothers who have a gift. It isn't fair but it happens.

Keep encouraging him in everything and keep pointing out that they are all three different and will have different skills.

I have some cousins much younger than me, three brothers. The older two were always the 'clever' ones, good at maths and programmed computers and laughed at their little brother because he was writing a book.

Brothers 1 and 2 graduated from good universities with a 2:2 and a 2:1 respectively.

Brother 3 graduated from Cambridge with a first.

iseenodust Mon 04-Feb-13 10:45:07

Is there a sport DS2 could follow as his own? eg cricket will not usually take under 7's. Something where he will acquire badges/medals as he progresses. or perhaps a theatre group to restore confidence.

You could also do the times table questions when only one is in the room and point out to Ds1 that waiting for his turn is as important as getting the answer right.

DeWe Mon 04-Feb-13 22:29:48

I think you need to play this one very carefully.

I was the middle one. Dsis was very good all round, hard worker, achieved well. Db was touted from a very early age as almost genius level. I didn't feel able to compete.
It felt like if I achieved then dsis had done it before, and db was expected to do much better. So I decided not to bother trying.
Actually looking back (and seeing some of db work) I realise that not only could I hold my own, but he wasn't genius level-just he was the third dc so got oportunities because he was the youngest. (I also see that in my dc#3-he learnt his tables when dd2 was because she liked to recite them for example) And I regret (sometimes) the things I never did because I thought I would look by far the worst.

Things that would have helped me (I think).
Letting me do something without the others. If I did something new, db had to do it-and be told how brilliant he was-even when I was (looking back) clearly more natural at it.
If a question was addressed to me, not celebrating how db answered it first. I stopped bothering answering if he was in the room, because I couldn't win at that. If he answered first, I got how brilliant he was, if I answered first, then it was expected because I was older. I wasn't allowed to answer if he was directly asked a question, so I think it should have been the same the other way round.
Not comparing. I always felt if I achieved what dsis had, the next comment was "will you do as well on the next level"-which she'd already done. very stressful. And I always felt that if db didn't do as well as me, it was hushed up, whereas if he did better it was shouted about.

For what it's worth, I am the most mathematical, and was seen throughout (parents/school etc) as the least academic, so I don't think people see being mathematical= clever My dsis was the most all round, and db struggled when he found that he wasn't actually the genius he was held up to be at primary.

TallulahMcFey Fri 15-Feb-13 08:42:07

In our case I think that people see being good at maths as clever too. My daughter has always seen as really clever as excelled at maths and the primary and then secondary school did make a bit of a fuss about it (but although well above average for English, was by no means gifted. My nephew, in the same year always felt inadequate. They have now done their A levels and have both got top grades, my daughter in primarily maths/sciences my nephew in primarily social sciences/English. He now can see how clever he is but got overlooked through school as struggled with maths comparatively.

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