Being compared to a sibling is one of the most frustrating challenges a student can face. When a student attends school and receives a new teacher, they strive to make their best impression. However, if the teacher has taught a sibling of theirs in the past, assumptions can be made regarding the student based solely upon who their sibling is.
Having a sibling can be both a blessing and a curse. If the sibling is known for inappropriate or disruptive behavior at school, that can severely affect the other child. The younger child is often not given the chance to express themselves because the teacher has already formed expectations in terms of their behavior. The younger child may also have feelings of embarrassment due to their older sibling’s behavior or academic difficulties.
According to Today’s Parent, comparing siblings can have long-lasting effects on a child’s ability to demonstrate academic success.
Not only can students suffer from preconceptions held by teachers based on the behavior of a disobedient older sibling, but students with highly intelligent and well-behaved siblings can also feel frustrated. Teachers sometimes assume the student will be as bright as their older brother or sister. The teacher places high expectations on the younger sibling, which can cause uncalled-for stress. This added pressure placed upon the student can make them feel anxious and insecure and lead to emotional effects in the future.
“[Comparing siblings] teaches [individuals] that life is about competition and comparison, and they will always feel that they can never be enough– because there’s always someone better than they are,” parenting expert Dr. Justin Coulson said.
Comparing siblings is unfair, as each student is their own individual. In some cases, siblings’ behaviors may be similar because of their upbringing, but, in other cases, siblings are polar opposites. Regardless of this, teachers should not judge the student based on the actions of their brother or sister.
“Children who are always compared to their brother or sister are likely to end up basing their self-worth on how they compare to others,” Early Childhood Education Teacher Deborah Covard said. “When you compare siblings, what they hear is, ‘You’re not good enough.’”
Many individuals already feel pressure to be more like their older brother or sister from their parents. According to Today’s Parent, comparing siblings can have long-lasting effects on a child’s ability to demonstrate academic success. It can damage their self-confidence and their ability to perform.
Highlighting students’ individual abilities rather than focusing on their siblings’ will create a bond and trust between the student and educator.
Some may argue that comparing siblings is beneficial as it provides students with the desire to improve their academic knowledge and or behavior. However, for many, this is not the case.
The demands for one to surpass their sibling can cause unnecessary stress, as well. This challenge can cause the student to not feel confident due to the fact that they are always being measured by the success of their sibling.
No two people are the same, especially when it comes to siblings. Based on the recommendations and ideas presented by psychologist Dr. Sylvia Rimm, it is beneficial for teachers to make a general statement to their students about how families can have siblings that have similar and different passions as well as temperaments. By having educators acknowledge these differences, students are more likely to understand that they will be treated as individuals.
If teachers considered the student on an individual basis, without correlating their actions to that of their siblings, students would feel more comfortable in the classroom environment. Highlighting students’ individual abilities rather than focusing on their siblings’ will create a bond and trust between the student and educator.
“Everyone is different and we should celebrate their uniqueness and individuality instead of comparing them to others,” Covard said.
Photo by Alexa Jaspan