Monday, 18 May 2015

Sibling Jealousy & How Parents Can Help

Hazem, or Zoom as he prefers to be called, is a 15-year-old from Houston, TX. He enjoys fantasy novels, video games and chilling with friends. His favorite subjects are English, Literature and Chemistry. He wants to be an International Lawyer.
More often than not, kids (especially older ones) excel at something that their siblings are far from good at. Even worse, sometimes they excel at various things when others can barely succeed in one. Many parents shrug this off as simply an unfair aspect of life that must be accepted. However, I would disagree, as this can be absolutely destructive to one’s growth.

Jealousy is by all means a fairly standard human trait. It is more than normal for us to come to a stage (or stages) in our lives when we do not like that someone is doing better than we are in anything. However, if it is not managed and subdued within a short period of inception, this jealousy can do horrors to the person and their relationship with the person they are jealous of. Friendships can be broken, lovers can fight, and a brother could hate his own sister. As I mentioned before, some cases are so bad that you can find the older sibling an A+ student, captain of several athletic teams, act in every school play, not to mention being the most popular kid in school, while the younger one is barely recognized by their own family. While some come out of that strong after finding their own passion, most of them get stuck in an inferiority complex where they honestly believe they are not good enough for life itself.

This feeling breeds one (or both) of two problems, which are nothing short of detrimental. One, hatred towards the sibling can not only create a dysfunctional family, but can also eradicate any hope of those siblings being on any terms remotely friendly. Two, is the inferiority complex discussed before. There is no bigger hit to your self-esteem than getting ignored especially by the family. If parents lavish one child with praise and compliments about how amazing they are without barley giving attention to the other, they are almost guaranteeing their failure in the tough life ahead of them. Even if they provide good attention to one, but there remains large difference in the quantity they give to the other, it gives the same effect, though a little more diluted.

“But parents can’t help it if one of their kids is talented and the other is not!” one might think. “What could possibly be done?!” The answer is: a LOT. First of all, there is no such a thing as a person who is not talented. There is such a thing, though, as a person who has not discovered their talent yet. If your child is not the top in their class or a master of an instrument, that is not because they are failures. Rather, they either have no idea what they are good at yet or they have not yet had a chance to explore and develop something they believe they are good at. This lays the responsibility on parents to push their kids into exploring as many things as possible. If your kid even hints that they are interested in music, encourage them to join a class. They like math? Find them a mathematics summer camp. Gentle encouragement with some pushing without becoming forceful can literally change a kid’s life. They could be picked up by an artist who thinks they have amazing musical talent in that class or they could decide that math is their ultimate passion in life after that camp.

Second, and most importantly, if you do find that one of your children is more successful, for the love of God DO NOT scream it from the top of a mountain. Keep reminding them that it is something positive they should develop and push them forward, but keep it subtle. There is no use rubbing it in to the other child that they are not as distinguished as their sibling. Empower both and encourage the better-off one to help the one who has not found their place yet.
Like all problems, the matter of sibling jealousy has a solution and a far from difficult one. Always keep in mind, though, that sensitivity, encouragement, and constant show of love will go a very long way with your child’s development.