Pros and cons of comparison between siblings

Many parents in households of two or more children can start drawing comparisons among their children. Sometimes comparisons are helpful but can have an emotional impact on children. If you have one child that excels in school and the other that doesn’t then you are prone towards making comparisons.


How parents compare?

Direct Statements: Parents can make direct statements such as “Your brother Joe did very well in Math. You should have grades like him.” Parents can also make praises of one child in public while the other child lacks that same attention.

Non-Verbal Behavior: Parents can allow the child excelling in school more privileges than the other. Parents don’t intentionally mean to do this however; to the other child it shows that parents are more proud of his or her sibling.

Social Factors: Other people in the social circle start making comparisons between two siblings and parents sometimes are forced to accept these comparisons.


Are comparisons bad?

No there are two sides to the coin. Some comparisons are healthy and can motivate the child to become more like their brother or sister encouraging improvements. Other times it can produce jealously and trigger acting out behaviors.


Pros of comparisons

  • Increases motivation
  • Creates a learner-teacher relationship between siblings
  • Some children view their sibling as a role model and follow their footsteps
  • Helps build a working relationship where one sibling can help the other
  • Increases bonding between siblings while learning together


Cons of comparisons

  • Creates jealousy
  • The child that doesn’t excel stops trying
  • Attention to the other child is viewed as a punishment
  • Acting-out behavior results to gain attention from parents
  • Lack of bonding and respect between siblings


What can parents do to help?

Parents unconsciously make comparisons sometimes even if their intention is not to hurt but to encourage the child to excel more.

It is important for parents to appreciate and recognize each child’s unique characteristics.  Maybe your child is not good at reading but could be phenomenal at art or playing music. Each child is unique in his or her own way and it is important to keep that in mind. You cannot compare in one domain alone. Accept the differences between your children and give recognition when appropriate for their unique talents.

If you want to help your child get good grades then say so, and make appropriate arrangements such as tutoring, getting in touch with their teachers, and communicating with your child about his or her struggles.