Circle of Moms member Kylie M.'s oldest son is an all-around “high achiever” whose younger brother, while intelligent, “walks to the beat of his own drum.” Kylie is concerned because she hears him say things that indicate he feels like he doesn't measure up.
It’s not an uncommon scenario: You have two (or more) children and one excels at everything. He’s a fantastic student, a great athlete, and a super friendly kid. Your other child works a little harder to be an average or above-average student and isn’t athletic or popular at all. Their different abilities and developmental paces sow the seeds of self esteem issues and intense sibling rivalry.
So what's a parent in this situation to do? Here are three approaches suggested by moms who are raising children of very different abilities and achievement levels.
1. Value "EQ" Just as Much as IQ
My middle son has an IQ in the “gifted” range and he also has Asperger's Syndrome. He is book-brilliant, but doesn’t have a whole lot of what’s known as “EQ,” or emotional intelligence. I wholeheartedly agree with Circle of Moms member Kylie, who says, “I believe that EQ is just as, if not more important that IQ.”
In other words, you can be the most intellectually gifted person in the world, but if you’re not able to relate to other people, it’s hard to do much with those gifts. Kylie is right on target when she says, “I make sure my children know that it is not actually how intelligent they are that matters but what they do with their intelligence.”
2. Require Good Behavior from All Your Kids
Dr. Nancy Robinson, who co-authored a study on pairs of siblings in which one was more "gifted," concluded that parents see gifted children as “better behaved” than their non-gifted siblings. Though encouraging, this research doesn’t help moms in the trenches. Mom Shira M., for instance, doesn’t see it that way in her house. Like my son, her “profoundly gifted” child is “super sensitive and very bossy.” Shira mentions that it’s been very important to insist upon her son “being a respectful, inclusive and caring family member.”
3. Help All Your Kids Discover Their Gifts
Another member, Christine Y., says she’s learned “that gifts show up in different ways” and that a child who doesn’t seem as obviously talented as his sibling still has talents. You may just have to work harder to see them.
Many moms, like Kathy B., make it a point to make sure each child knows that “everyone is special in their own way.” Deborah C. takes it a step further, advising that if you don’t want one child growing up to resent the other, it’s up to you to help him find his talent. “The last thing you want is for him to feel out of place,” she explains.
Above all, it’s good to keep in mind that “gifted” doesn’t mean flawless and “average” doesn’t imply your child has nothing to offer. Circle of Moms member Rhonda C. is mother to two children she describes as "gifted" and one who she says is “average." While she reports that it’s been hard to keep her “average child's self-esteem and educational confidence intact,” what’s more striking is that he is the “most well-rounded of the three.” His gifted siblings, she says, have difficulty in social arenas and with managing disappointment, skills that some easy to their older brother.
As Laura R. says, “Every child, whether labeled 'gifted' or not, has wonderful gifts to share.” And as parents, it’s up to us to nurture all those gifts.
*Consequences of Having a Gifted Sibling: Myths and Realities
Image Source: ThomasLife via Flickr/Creative Commons
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.