Some Kids are Overachievers, Others Aren’t

Posted on January 14, 2010. Filed under: children, Parenting | Tags: , |

With four daughters, it’s bound to happen. One child does something absolutely newsworthy while the others sit quietly in the background. Sure, they’re happy for her, but they also can feel inferior and left out.

Our youngest is 15 and she’s the athletic one in the bunch. She plays every sport there is, and I must admit she plays them well. As a sophomore, she is a starter on the varsity basketball team. She works hard to earn and keep her spot, and it shows. She’s improving every day. Tuesday night she scored 25 points, earning her full page newspaper coverage, picture and all.

Her coach says she’s fun to coach, listens well, and has a super personality. I agree. All of my girls have great personalities. The teachers like them. They’re respectful, pleasant, fun!, and also honor roll students. But they get there in different ways.

The youngest, the overachiever and athlete, studies a LOT. She gets home from games or practice, showers and eats, then whips open the books and intently works on her homework until about 11 pm. The third, an honor roll student too, whips open the books, but only studies as much as she has to in order to get the A and occasional B. Grades come easier for #3 than #4.

We commend both of them.

But #4 got mass attention from friends, family, the community and fans. Her picture was on the front page and a 6 x 9 was plastered on the front of the sports section. How does #3 feel? I silently watched.

She was happy for her sister, and thankfully, only 15 months apart, they’re best friends. But I could see that the continual Emily this, Emily that was starting to get to her. She was quiet, in the background. Did she feel like she was in the background with our family? I think so. We talked, trying not to put her on the spot.

The headline said McKenna Excels. She said, I don’t excel at anything. But she does. She’s the kindest and fairest friend anyone will ever know. She won’t participate in mean girl, gossip tactics. She stands up for the little guy. She gets great grades and is a gentle, funny person. To me, that means much more than any sports stats. To her, it doesn’t.

Emily is bound to get more of the same attention she got Tuesday. She is after all an overachiever.

Meridith is bound to feel like she sits in her little sister’s background because she isn’t.

And I’m bound to feel happy for one when she excels and gets credit for it, and bad for the other because she does excel in so many ways, but yet doesn’t get credit for it.

What’s a parent to do when one child is an overachiever, and the other isn’t?

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3 Responses to “Some Kids are Overachievers, Others Aren’t”

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I have two girls. One is disappointed in a B. The other is happy go-lucky with grades. Slowly but surely I am teaching this kid to care about getting better grades. She is doing well. She had no idea that she could do better.

It seems almost like they accept some unwritten standard, one which they formed in their own mind. Not thinking she could do as well as her sister, she probably decided to not even try. Which brings up the debate, can competition between siblings be damaging, or is it just as true that it can be healthy?

Isn’t it amazing how different kids can be? My three boys are all so unique..my middle one is the overachiever and I have to fight to not expect the same from the other boys. Great post =)


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