advice to help twin of very G&T DS

(79 Posts)
bettysviolin Sun 21-Jun-15 20:42:49

Hi
I have twins, non ID. Both are bright and go to a selective school that they both got into easily.

But one comes at or near top of the class in everything. The other is near the bottom of his class in most things. One excels at extra-curricular stuff - picked for sports teams, music groups, wins art prizes etc. It's non stop. The other is picked sometimes (not often.)

I feel concerned for my DT who is lovely and bright and normal but feels in the shadow of his brother. He has far less self confidence, he is also mildly autistic (recently diagnosed with HFA) and has all his life had a raft of physical problems.

I'm genuinely concerned that he'll end up feeling like his brother got all the breaks and he didn't, or that he isn't up to scratch in some way. It's clear from his withdrawn reaction when his DT announces yet another A* mark or team pick that he does judge himself against his brother unfavourably, even though we never do and are careful not to compare them.

I want to help him gain confidence to be happy in his skin and happy at what he does and who he is, but it's hard when his twin (who is taller, thinner etc) keeps bringing home trophies.

How can I help increase his self confidence?

teeththief Sun 21-Jun-15 21:07:27

Is there anything he's good at that his brother isn't quite so good at? Maybe sign him up to something out of school that he can do on his own?

defineme Sun 21-Jun-15 21:23:40

He may not actually be better at anything ( though i doubt it.. my non id dtwins are chalk and cheese even when it comes to harder define stuff like comic timing/ tidiest /better friend/ pet care) and what he needs to do is find separate interests and his own people- things that spring to mind are things like my dtwin1's eco warrier type group she loves or my friend's ds1's warfare role play group ...places where they can define themselves and be totally different. If he is often coming bottom of the class is he in the right school or does he need tuition? HFA can go hand in hand with depression and social isolation, so it's great that you're aware of esteem issues- my ds's asd youth group is also a fab place for him to be himself.

bettysviolin Sun 21-Jun-15 21:57:48

teeth he does do something on his own outside school, and he loves it and is good at it (though hasn't yet made friends from it) But DT1 does something similar and really excels at it. We try to keep them as separate as possible but their interests overlap.

One example. DT2 joined a school club he enjoyed. It was low key but fun, run by older pupils. then the older pupils gave up due to GCSE pressure. DT1 offered to teachers that he'd take over running it. He revamped it, made it serious and shiny and successful and within one week, DT2 had, understandably, stopped attending. DT1 has since been given an award by the school for revamping a half dead club so enthusiastically. Meanwhile, it was one of DT2's few interests and now it's been usurped.

I feel so mean saying this. I'm not siding with DT2 and am very happy for DT1 that he's so full of life. He's just very Tiggerish and comes boinging in and takes over with his massive amounts of enthusiasm and energy that eclipse people with less confidence, like DT2.

defineme does your DS also have ASD? Is he happy and settled in himself? Funnily enough, the things you mention are things he'd love: he is interested in eco-warrior stuff and he loves ComicCon though hasn't the guts to dress up. I wish he'd go to an ASD youth group. There's one nearby. But he thinks it's like wearing a badge saying 'look at me, I don't fit in with normal people.' He's really very down on himself. Tbh, I don't think I've ever met anyone with such low self esteem unless they came from a harsh family background, and he doesn't. He is loved for who he is not what he achieves. And yet he seems so down on himself all the time.

We have wondered about the school. DH is very adamant it's the right place. In a non selective school, no one would notice the processing difficulties DS2 has, as he's so bright, he can conceal them and get Bs in most subjects. But he's at a straight A school. He was so proud to have got in easily that at the time we felt this would help prove to him that he was not in his brother's shadow. And he likes the school. It's also very nurturing. Has loads of HFA pupils - far higher than national average, and so offers lots of knowledge and support. I have said to him we could look at other schools, and that there's no way he is expected to go through his teens feeling like a failure for getting Bs not As or as not A*s. I'd rather he shifted schools. But he likes the known not the unknown. There isn't a school better suited to him for miles around.

lljkk Sun 21-Jun-15 22:00:48

Did you used to post as.... solo? maybe?

bettysviolin Sun 21-Jun-15 22:04:32

Oops, meant - I'd rather he shifted schools if there were somewhere he'd definitely be happier, but not sure there is. He didn't fit in at mainstream primary. He was very unhappy and lonely there. He seems to have better friendships here. Though not very close. But not bullying and manipulative as they were at primary.

Alanna1 Sun 21-Jun-15 22:05:46

I think you should consider moving him to a different school.

bettysviolin Sun 21-Jun-15 22:06:27

Nolljkk I didn't. Is there another poster with similar concerns? (Intrigued.) I have name changed as there's a fair bit of identifying info here, but never been solo. Would love to speak to someone who has had similar issues with twins.

teeththief Sun 21-Jun-15 22:09:22

Did you know he'd voluntarily taken over DS2's club? Whilst I'm sure you're proud of DS1's confidence surely then was the time to step in and encourage DS2 rather than let DS1 take over?

How old are they? I'd assumed you were talking primary age but your latest post makes me think they are older, which would mean your DS1 being old enough to realise when it was time to step back rather than take over

bettysviolin Sun 21-Jun-15 22:16:14

Alanna I have, and still am. But there isn't anywhere nearby. the state schools are massively oversubscribed and the only one we were offered wasover an hour away by two buses and is a failing school. he's geeky and physically awkward and would have the life kicked out of him at that particular school. There are other private schools. One is less academic but hugely sporty. He is very dyspraxic. Again, I worry about bullying. One upside of this academic school is that the majority of boys are quite gentle and geeky and were misfits in their previous schools so are very nice to each other.

The other possibility is another local school which is also very gentle but not academic at all. DH is concerned that he'd get no help there for issues he has, and that he'd coast along and come out with very poor exam results which, long term, would make him feel even less confident than he does now.

All of his subject teachers have said he's bright. That there are boys who beaver away and just about manage to stay on top of the schoolwork but he's not one of them. He's bright but he has processing issues (problems with short term memory and with complex instructions.) Once he's grasped what he needs to do, he flies and comes top. But he struggles to grasp instructions. At a school where this didn't matter, no one would give him the help he needs to overcome this and develop the life skills he needs.

But I am torn. If the school undermines his confidence by expecting too much, he can't stay there.

spookyskeleton Sun 21-Jun-15 22:20:14

I do not have twins but my 2 boys are in a similar position. DS1 breezes through life, top of the class, sporty, everything comes easy to him etc. Last week, he was called up to the front of assembly 3 times in one assembly for various things. He is popular, extremely socially and emotionally intelligent, charming blah blah.

DS2 is not as naturally gifted but will work so hard and achieves because he puts the effort in. However, he has to work much harder to get anywhere near the levels that DS1 gets. Again, he is not naturally sporty but wants to copy his big bro and does it with such eenthusiasm. He does have a hobby (drama) which we have kept as just his. DS1 asks to go (and if he went, he would be bloody good at it) but he understands that it is DS2's 'thing'. It gives DS2 90 minutes each week of doing something that he enjoys and also gives us the opportunity to praise him and not be compared to DS1. We probably over praise but we are very conscious of how he feels in comparison to DS1.

However, he absolutely worships DS1 and despite us telling him constantly that he does not need to copy DS1, he seems to want to follow in his footsteps.

Sorry, no advice but totally empathize and it must be harder when it is your twin sad

Mrdarcyswife Sun 21-Jun-15 22:22:32

I'm a non ID twin of a high achiever. And it is hard. My parents were brilliant, but there was constant comparisons made by other family members and even some teachers.
Luckily we are very different. I insisted from the start of senior school that I wouldn't be in a lesson with DT and the school did support that which helped as I was able to make my own friends. But what really changed my life was finding a hobby I was genuinely good at. I made lifelong friendships and was able to develop as me, rather than DT's twin!

I hope your DS2 is able to find a similar outlet/ hobby and grow to fill the space he deserves in life

cece Sun 21-Jun-15 22:22:32

Perhaps value and praise effort rather than achievement?

bettysviolin Sun 21-Jun-15 22:25:55

They're at secondary. I found out he'd taken over the club when DT2 told me he didn't go anymore, and after being pushed as to why, explained DT1 had come in and restarted it after it died. I can't tell them what they can and can't do during school hours. They are teens.

I would never tell DT1 not to do something he wants to do because his brother may want to do it if he ever gets round to it. My neurotic dad used to ban my mum from doing things she loved if she got better at them than him, so I have a real aversion to quashing someone's interests and abilities. I want them both to thrive and be happy, not to control one for the benefit of the other.

DT1 will always be a go-getter. I need to find ways to help DT2 feel great and self confident so that how DT1 is and what he does is irrelevant to him, as he feels happy on his own terms. They could have run the club together. I suggested it. It is an area in which they both excel equally. But DT1 was prepared to put the effort in and DT2 wasn't. He didn't take over when the older boys left. It died. DT1 revamped it. DT2 didn't put the effort in because he has no self belief. he thought no one would turn up if he ran it. He thought he'd run it badly. I wish I knew how to change that negative attitude towards himself. Do people really think the best way to change it is to curb his brother's enthusiasm? (Genuine question - I don't know. I may have a mistaken outlook on this.)

Mrdarcyswife Sun 21-Jun-15 22:26:56

Also as spooky says if you son does find something he loves, please try and keep DT away from it. I know my parents discouraged my DT from joining my hobby. It was great to have "my thing"

teeththief Sun 21-Jun-15 22:30:35

No not curb his brothers enthusiasm but as a teen I'd hope he'd understand that his brother struggles a bit around him? I didn't mean for my previous post to come across as snippy. I don't have twins but have siblings who like to compare themselves to each other. I pull them up on it if they're stepping on each others toes but then they're only 10 and 8 and not independent teens.

bettysviolin Sun 21-Jun-15 22:31:03

MrDarcy'swife thank you for your post! That is so much what I wanted to hear smile He does have his own interest, and we insisted they were never in the same class. He does well in the thing that he loves and it is sociable so long term, it could be a great way of having friends and a lovely life.

cece I always praise effort not achievement. So do many teachers at the school. But you can praise effort all you like. If one works hard and gets poor marks and the other doesn't and comes top, and they are twins, it's tough. I got him a present he really wanted for working hard for his end of year exams, even though he did quite badly in most of them. he did work hard and I was so proud of him. I got his brother nothing and he was getting straight As but didn't revise. The present was for revising not achievement.

Mrdarcyswife Sun 21-Jun-15 22:32:57

Oops cross post
It's not about curbing DTs enthusiasm. It's about creating a space for DS2 to be himself and find out how great he is when he's not constantly being compared to his brother
I'm not surprised he gave up the club. He was enjoying it on his terms and then all of a sudden it was going to be another show case for his brother. All my life I stepped away from anything that would allow people to directly compare me and DT. Why would I, the non gifted twin, want to put myself through that?

spookyskeleton Sun 21-Jun-15 22:37:34

I agree - because of the age gap ( just over 2 years) of my 2, DS2 hero worships DS1 so wants to follow everything he does. However I recognize he needs his own space which is why I will not let DS1 go to the drama group and outshine him. DS2 would love his brother to go but the amount of confidence DS2 has gained by going by himself and having to make his own friends has convinced me I have done the right thing smile

bettysviolin Sun 21-Jun-15 22:37:39

spooky thanks. I suspect if they were different ages, we'd have a similar dynamic, but being twins it's so shoved in his face.

Teeth you didn't come over as snippy. I appreciate people's thoughts on this. It's tricky. the dynamic between twins is hard to explain. I forgot - there's another thing he does which DT1 showed interest in, and I told DT1 he was overcommitted and not to join it. The real reason was, I wanted it to be DT2's thing. Maybe I should be more honest with DT1 about treading on toes. But as said before, I'm so wary of ever saying to a child: you can't do X because your brother wants to and so it belongs to him not you. At that age they should be allowed to try any and everything.

bettysviolin Sun 21-Jun-15 22:41:51

lljkk I just did a search on solo but no posts on twins came up. Was there a relevant thread you remembered?

spookyskeleton Sun 21-Jun-15 22:45:52

Betty yes I appreciate the difference between our situations and realize it must be so much harder as twins.

In a couple of years, my 2 will be at different schools and DS2 will be able to enjoy the last 3 years of primary without living in DS1's shadow which I am very grateful for.

bettysviolin Sun 21-Jun-15 22:46:56

MrDarcy I agree. I was so frustrated when DT1 waltzed into that club as it was one that DT2 might have very gradually got involved in and shone in. But it was very understandable that he backed down.

bettysviolin Sun 21-Jun-15 22:50:37

spooky I tried to get DT2 to join a drama group. There's a really lovely one nearby. Not interested. Refused (even though it would massively help with his self confidence and posture and he has been good in previous roles in school plays.) But DT1 immediately said: Thursday? I'm free Thursdays, I'd LOVE to try drama.' I had to say he had enough on and it wasn't an option for him. He looked hurt as though we were favouring DT2.

Ingles2 Sun 21-Jun-15 22:54:45

Betty we have a very similar situation, except my boys are not twins.. But 17 months apart.. That said, we live in a rural village so suffered mixed year groups throughout primary. Come secondary, we sent ds1 off to the selective.. And at my dh's insistence, ds2 to the local comp. I was seriously worried about this as ds2 was still grammar material like your son, and the comp didn't have such a good reputation. They are now in years 9&10 and ds2 is seriously flying... He's doing brilliantly academically, has got a group of friends and is happy! It was the best decision to separate them, so if you haven't got to gcse's yet, you might want to think about it.

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