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Why does my son treat his sister as a rival?

Q: I have a son 16 years old. His main complaint is that we don't give him much time and we are more affectionate towards his sister aged 10 years. He blames his non-performance in the exams to the same reason and demands that we take his study as we take his sister's (class VI). He is a first class student, we know and have told him that we have confidence that he can perform still better. Is it true that due to this perception his grades go down? What should be done to get him out of this wrong perception? Has he lost his self-esteem? His sister gets much better grades than him, participates in elocution, dance and drama. He also participates in elocution and drama and is the preferred speaker in his school. He is very helpful, responsible, reads a lot of news, magazines and has a good general knowledge. How do we help him?

A:You are lucky to have two high-performing children! Start with counting your blessings! Sibling rivalry or the feeling of competition between two children in the same family is very common. You have to dispel the child’s feeling of bias against him or bias in favour of his sister. Once in a way, you can also sit with him while he is studying chatting in between and doing your own work, so that he gets a feeling of companionship. Because a child is bright and talented, we tend to treat him as very grown up. A 16 year old also needs an occasional cuddle and a joke shared with him. The very fact that you say that his sister gets much better grades than him indicates the comparison. It is difficult, but you must feel and be able to indicate that each child is valuable and loved, irrespective of school performance. After a couple of times when you have helped his study he will want to be free to do his own work. Self-esteem is not a lost and found object. It is built up over a period of time, through several interactions with parents and others. Instead of pushing him to do better, tell him if he does well enough to get the course he wants, you will be satisfied. As soon as the pressure of parental expectations is off, he will start doing his best. Indulge him a little, instead of being stern. It seems he wants that assurance. All the best.

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