8 ways to praise your child without making his sibling jealous

April 27, 2017
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    Your nine-year-old clearly outshines her older brother academically when he was her age, and you’re very proud of her educational achievements – but you may be holding back your praises because you are worried that it will hurt her sibling.

    You need to think this through very carefully. Here are some suggestions for you to consider:

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  • Every child has their individual achievements
    2 / 9 Every child has their individual achievements

    Sure, your tween does better at school and gets grades, awards and prizes in class that her older brother could only dream about.

    But he has achievements that she can’t reach, such as selection for the school football team or success in a music exam. Rather than under-praising your younger child – which may lead to resentment – find ways to ensure that both children receive appropriate praise.

    Related: Why parents shouldn’t define children by their grades

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  • Never compare your children
    3 / 9 Never compare your children

    Comments such as “I wish your brother was as successful at school as you” or “Why can’t you get grades in class tests like your sister?” are always divisive and never helpful.

    Sibling comparisons create rivalry and jealousy between them, pit one against the other, and always have negative outcomes. So no matter how tempted you might be, avoid comparisons.

    Related: Why you shouldn’t compare your kids

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  • Involve both siblings when praising one of them
    4 / 9 Involve both siblings when praising one of them

    Instead of hiding one child’s achievements from the other, try to involve them both.

    For instance, you can say: “Your sister and I are very proud of your lovely painting” or “Your brother and I are both delighted that you got such a good grade.” Even if these statements are not entirely accurate, they set a positive tone.

    Related: 10 tips for better sibling relationships

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  • Discourage bragging
    5 / 9 Discourage bragging

    Have a quiet word with your nine-year-old about the way she discusses her achievements. She’s old enough to realise her older brother might feel bad because he hasn’t done as well in school and doesn’t have so many certificates to display.

    Explain to her that, of course, she must be proud of her achievements, but that she shouldn’t arrogantly boast about them in front of her brother or taunt him with them.

    Related: 6 reasons for sibling rivalry

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  • Nurture individual differences
    6 / 9 Nurture individual differences

    Both your kids have their own distinctive blend of skills, talents and personality traits. They don’t look the same, dress the same, or have the same interests, so there is no reason to expect them to have the same academic achievements.

    That’s why it’s important to recognise and develop their specific abilities, which will probably take their development in different directions.

    Related: How to find and grow your child’s talents

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  • Be sensitive to your lower-achiever
    7 / 9 Be sensitive to your lower-achiever

    No matter how hard you try to make each child feel valued, your older kid might be very aware that his sister outshines him academically at every stage.

    Tactfully check this out by having a private discussion with him. If you  nd that he is bothered by his sister’s progress, reassure him that you think he is wonderful, too, and remind him that everybody is different.

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  • Don’t over-compensate
    8 / 9 Don’t over-compensate

    Your younger kid might get better grades than her brother, but he’s no fool. And if you over-compensate, for example, by making a big fuss of every single minor achievement he makes, he’ll soon see through your strategy.

    Too much inappropriate praise can belittle the recipient, making him feel patronised and undervalued. Try to achieve a suitable balance so that you don’t overdo it.

    Related: 9 ways to praise your kid

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  • Relax and reflect
    9 / 9 Relax and reflect

    After all, the older sibling may be totally unconcerned about his younger sister’s superior academic progress. It might not bother him at all that she achieves better grades than he did at that stage.

    Therefore, do not assume that this is an issue between them or that you have to intervene in some way. Perhaps he’s very pleased that his younger sister does so well in school, and maybe he’s content with his own progress.

    (Photos: 123RF.com)

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