My nephew has two older sisters. One is heavily active in soccer and gymnastics, while the other is in Karate, basketball and dance. Both girls have tried other activities as well and always do well at the things they try. For whatever reason, things don't come quite as easily for their little brother.

Since he is five years younger than the middle sister, he really looks up to both of them and has tried all five of the activities they are in, but seems to always be in their shadow. He has recently started asking his mom for an activity of his own but between scheduling, searching his intersests and just finding an activity one or the other of the girls hasn't tried has proven difficult for his mom.

Has anyone else had this experience and what did you do about it to help the third sibling be encouraged to keep trying?

  • Make him watch some movies/cartoons which would inspire him (push him) towards a certain interest. Captain Tsubasa for soccer, Karate Kid for martial arts, etc.
    – Dariusz
    Dec 4, 2013 at 3:39

2 Answers 2


Maybe he needs to try something less "sportsy" and more "artsy". Maybe he would enjoy getting involved in theater or taking some art classes or joining a children's choir or piano lessons? If his sisters excel in athletics then finding something completely different might be the push he needs to distinguish himself. If athletics is a priority in his family, then many cities and municipalities offer intramural leagues which might give him an opportunity to try out some sports his sisters might not have (I know our town offers flag football as well as t-ball/baseball and lacrosse in addition to soccer). At age five, swimming lessons could be considered an activity that could turn into his involvement in a swim team.

My son is not the most athletically inclined child either, but he is involved in martial arts. He isn't the most graceful student in his class, but we do encourage practice and celebrate improvement. Plus, five year olds are just awkward--they're going through growth spurts and they're not going to have the fine motor skills of an 8 or 9 year old. If I expected my 5-year-old to throw a punch like a 10 year old, I'd be disappointed. Helping him to realize that his sisters probably weren't as good at their activities when they started out as they are now might make him feel better (and if they were then he doesn't have to know all those gory details), and his seeing their improvement as they've practiced and grown might be the encouragement he needs.

Finally, and this is completely out of your control, it might be time for his mom to encourage his sisters to look at dropping an activity if scheduling is a real problem. You hate to do that, but if none of the children are old enough to drive themselves to practices and games and mom is the only current mode of transportation, then it's not fair to the youngest to say, "Oh, I know you're really interested in that, but sister X has this on Monday and sister Y has this on Wednesday". What you're really saying is "You're interests aren't as important as your sisters interests". Or maybe it's time for his sisters to start carpooling to practices with friends.

  • 2
    Awesome answer. +1 for everything, especially the last paragraph. Can I add ice hockey to the list of things his sisters might not have tried yet? Dec 4, 2013 at 15:28
  • Funny you mention swimming, his mom was a competetive swimmer, they have their own backyard pool, and have all had swimming lessons. He LOVES!! the water too. I don't know why they haven't put him in more advanced swim classes to be honest. They are really competetive (in EVERYTHING) even mom and dad with each-other. Part of their culture, so unfortunately, I can only have so much help to the nephew in terms of counteracting the negative effects of competition out of balance. FABULOUS ANSWER THOUGH! and if it were my family specifically I'd be jumping all three of these pieces of advise. Dec 4, 2013 at 20:55

I would bet there are more activities around than the five his sisters practice ;-) You / they should not only focus to find something his sisters don't do, just to find something different from them. Find something he likes to do.

but seems to always be in their shadow.

Leisure activities are not a competition. Who tries to find a shadow? If his sister is in the professional league of something and he is doing the same thing in the backyard but he has fun - this is fine.
This is a basic attitude that should be discussed before. One can compare success levels even for very different activities. This makes no sense at all but can be very destructive

Scheduling is another discussion. Maybe there are some more activities at the same place and same time so one ride can bring both children? Or there is something at school with existing transport? Or depending on the place they are there is something in the neighborhood or they can easily use public transport?

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