The Pain Of Having An Overachieving Sibling In The Family

4 minutes

Siblings are the inescapable people we will always have. They’re the first friends, the secret keepers, the promise breakers, and the ones who know our madness. The relationship we share with them is dynamic as they can even become our parents, teachers, mentors in disguise. This relationship is such that it cannot be explained in few words.

Parents learn from their first child and usually, consider him/her to be the pacesetter for the siblings who follow. If high standards are set by the first child the younger siblings are made to believe that to earn the equal recognition they must achieve a similar level of success. Not only parents but the entire family and relatives spread this message. What they all don’t understand is the negative impact it creates on these children.

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Here is one such story of Sakshi Srivastava, who speaks out her heart about “What growing up with an overachieving sibling has been like for me!”

Our siblings can teach us more than we want to learn. Some younger ones may idolize their elder brother or sister. Pressurizing siblings to be like the other can negatively impact the thought process of the young minds. As Sakshi narrates,

Being an elder brother, he had to bear the brunt of being responsible. While I was let off easily, most of the time. We navigated the waters of our relationship pulling, pushing, supporting each other. Our parents taught us to be protectors of each other.

But, what always soured the relationship to a little extent was the blatant comparison between the two of us; He – the overachiever, I – the underdog. Always asked to look up to him, take him as a role model. He was good in academics, good at extra-curricular activities and most of all an extrovert.

Anything forceful is unacceptable and parents have to understand this. They need to accept that their children are different despite being siblings. What shouldn’t be forgotten is their individuality. Sakshi explains,

Most people would refer to me as, “Aren’t you [insert sibling name]’s sister? Must feel really good, huh? What have you learnt from him?” As if I was an inanimate object or his property with no identity of my own. People tried to befriend me in order to know him.

It’s obvious that every child in the family is not genetically alike and the children would be different intellectuals, and in artistic, musical, or physical abilities. Families may think that competition is a way of motivation and encouragement. But when children are labeled it brings a limitation to their confidence.

What parents and other relatives don’t realize as Sakshi says,

“We often don’t realise what this does for the sibling whose talents are constantly undermined. How much pressure that puts on them.”

It’s important for parents to consider all their children to be intelligent even if one seems a bit more intelligent than the others. When parents expect all their children to be smart and value challenge, the children are actually less competitive with each other. Comparing them to one another must be avoided irrespective of any reason.

While such comparison can create misunderstandings between siblings, Sakshi says:

“… luckily I never let that happen. Nor did my brother. He made me realise that I was fine as I am. No need for the constant self-doubt or angst.”

Though Sakshi has been blessed to have an understanding brother, it might not be the same for all. Therefore, here’s a message to all parents, relatives, and siblings:

“Accept that sibling can be different. Appreciate them for what they are, for their potential, and for their talents. And avoid pressurizing them to be like one another.”

Do share your experiences in the comments. Also, you can talk to the experts at YourDOST and get Expert Parenting Advice.

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