The child who outshines her sibling will be troubled. After all, she wants to think that everybody in the family is happy with her achievements; she doesn`t want to be afraid to mention her latest grades for fear of upsetting her sibling. She would prefer her brother or sister to do well too, so that they can both share in the pleasure of each other`s success.
Much as you would wish to have the power to change things so that all your children are equally matched in their abilities, realise that this is beyond you. However, you can do a great deal to minimise the potential psychological damage.
Clearly, your child with lower achievements will be unhappy at being shown up in bad light when compared with her sibling, even if you think you are doing it for all the right reasons. You may be tempted to use comparisons for positive reasons-for instance, to motivate your child into improving her grades. But this only makes things worse. Don`t say it, even if you think it during moments of frustration. Say something like "I want you to try as hard as you can in school this year" instead. Her future achievements should be judged against the baseline of her previous performance, not against the achievements of a sibling who outshines her. And keep relatives, friends and teachers from making comparisons as well. It is the most natural thing for everyone to do, so you need to be on your guard.
Encourage different interests
Each of your children is unique there is no reason they should both participate in the same sport or the same extracurricular class. If, for instance one child has a natural talent for the piano, encourage that talent. There is no point in getting the other one also to learn the piano simply because there is a piano in the house and you have invested a lot of money in it. Maybe the other child can take up the violin or the flute! That way, each starts off with clean sheets and one does not have to feel threatened by the other`s achievements. You can get one hell of a duet out of them in the bargain!! And it reduces the pressure of comparisons by a great deal.
Value each child
And then you could make the mistake of encouraging the child who does not shine and neglect the one who is naturally gifted. The child with the inborn talent needs your encouragement and advice too. Just because she achieves more than her sibling does not mean that life always goes smoothly for her. Each of your children needs to feel valued. Take an active interest in their activities and lifestyles. Praise effort as well as achievement. As long as she tries hard to achieve, you cannot ask any more from her.
While all these measures are effective, there is just no hard and fast rule that can apply to everyone alike. But they can reduce the potential negative effects, restore your child`s self-esteem and make her proud of her own achievements, whatever they may be.