Between Siblings

‘Saaz’. A film about two sisters — two singers. Bansi has received an invitation to sing at the Red Fort on Republic Day. She is only waiting for the official confirmation, she tells Mansi, her sister. Mansi smiles.

Days pass. Then weeks. The confirmation letter does not arrive. Bansi keeps waiting till 26th January. On the fateful day, she switches on the television. And who should be singing at the Red Fort — her own sister.

Sibling rivalry often takes ugly hues as children with animosity between them grow up into adults.

A symptom that rears its head when one sibling outshines the other or has been performing better than the other, sibling rivalry requires a parent to use a lot of tack in handling the problem.

It is not as if Mansi in ‘Saaz’ did not like Bansi or was not proud of her accomplishments. But, at that particular moment, she wanted the glory due to her sister for herself. So she pulled enough strings to make sure that the invitation came to her. She has obviously grown up with a sense of insecurity vis-à-vis her sister. And this act provides evidence of this weakness.

The child’s state of mind: Low self-confidence

Living under the shadow of a more successful sibling can cause a sense of low self-esteem in the child’s mind. She compares her achievements with her sibling’s and begins feeling a sense of low self worth. She feels that even if she tries harder, she will not be able to achieve as much as her sibling. This also contributes to a decrease in her performance levels.

Jealousy

Constant comparisons should be a taboo. They only make one jealous of the other. Though psychologists may consider it normal, it can cause serious damage to the siblings’ relationship in the long run — like the sisters’ in ‘Saaz’.

Feeling of neglect

Between Siblings

Between Siblings [Illustration by Sudheer Nath]

The high achiever gets constant attention at home and even outside. This sows seeds of discontentment in the otherchild’s mind. Often, children exposed to such situations avoid going out with the other sibling. He also keeps away from people for the fear of being neglected.

These symptoms can be avoided if the parents take due care in handling both of them. Equal attention needs to be paid to both. Especially to other talents that the low achiever has.

Some tips for parents

  • Never compare your child with his sibling or classmates.
  • One child may outshine the other in grades but the other one may be good at music, sports, painting or singing. Encourage him to follow what he is good at and try to help him develop it into one of his assets.
  • Never get tempted to use words like, “if you study as hard as your sister, you will also get good marks”. Talk to their teachers and tell them to refrain from making any comparisons.
  • Make a conscious effort to appreciate the less successful child in front of the high-achiever, and in front of friends and other family members. This would improve matters considerably.
  • Take the high achiever into confidence. Tell him to be gentle with his sibling and help him with her problems. This would help them learn to share and solve problems together.
  • Value each child independently. Take active interest in their activities and talk to them individually about their experiences. Both children should feel that their parents are concerned about their problems and that they can bank on their parents for emotional support.
  • Discussing problems with the child will also help in reducing the generation gap between you and the children.The tips listed above may not completely remove the pressure of living under the shadow of a more successful sibling, but they can definitely reduce the negative feelings generated in the other child and restore his self esteem.

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