Dear Sara: I have two daughters…

Dear Sara,

I have two daughters, Jane age 11 and Melanie who is 8.  Jane is very outgoing and gets lots of attention. Melanie would rather read or play on the computer while her sister gets to be the star.

I don’t think that this is fair to Melanie for Jane to get all the attention.  How can I make things more equitable?


Dear Sheila,

Your girls have very different personalities.  This is probably not going to change.  Apparently Jane likes to interact with people and enjoys the attention.  This isn’t true for everybody.  Each person has their own boundary  for interacting with others. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they are shy, it just means that they are more comfortable with less stimulation.

As Melanie gets older this could change.  You don’t want her to be a recluse, so it’s a good idea to encourage her to do some social things.  She needs to develop the necessary skills so that she can interact successfully with others.  It’s not a matter of competing with Jane for attention but rather for Melanie to develop her social skills.

You could find out what activities the other kids in her grade at school are doing by talking to their Moms.  Then you could encourage Melanie to participate so that she would have more interaction with other kids her age.  As she begins to interact with other children, she may become more confident.

You may not be able to change Melanie’s  personality but giving her an opportunity to make friends and interact with others is important.  At eight years old she still has time to grow and mature socially.  She may never be the outgoing young lady that Jane is, but if she is not constantly compared to Jane she will be able to grow into her own personality.


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