5 Ways to nurture Special Needs Siblings
The bond between siblingsis a special one, for they fill each other’s lives with joy and wonder. They’re the ones who witness our lives from an insider’s perspective and are our best friends forever. Children who have special needs siblings have a different experience and not much is spoken about it. Often, the emphasis is placed on the parent-special child relationship and the challenges of nurturing their siblings haven’t been researched enough.
Here are 5 ways in which families can work through some of these challenges and nurture special needs siblings:
Acknowledge their efforts
Siblings of children with disabilities often face the pressure to be perfect. They might worry that their parents are already under a great deal of stress and might try to reduce it by attempting to be a perfectionist. They may also not share their concerns with their family in order to save them from worries. Parents and caregivers must be aware of the efforts of the siblings and encourage them to communicate their feelings. They must help them realize that it’s ok to have their own needs.
Give attention equally
Children with special needs need a great deal of support and attention. This may cause the other siblings to feel left out and taken for granted. They may end up feeling that their achievements don’t get enough praise. It is important to spread the love around and give equal attention to all children. Talk about their positives and encourage them to continue their hard work in whatever they do.
Meet other special needs siblings
Just as parents need a support system while parenting a child with special needs, sibling also need to know they’re not alone in this journey. When special needs siblings meet other kids in similar situation, they can find comfort and also share their feelings, as well as challenges with them.
Set aside time for each child
Children who have special needs siblings need a lot of one-on-one time with their parents. Although it might be challenging to fit in with everything else going on, even the smallest amount of quality time can make a big impact. Keep it meaningful and consistent – try reading a book together before sleeping, or do a puzzle together, or just anything that interests your child.
Avoid inappropriate responsibilities
Children are often given certain responsibilities in a family set up. Where there are siblings with disabilities, these responsibilities may get increased. Some parents request their children to care for themselves independently, so that they can give more attention to the special needs child. This premature independence may cause the child to behave like an adult. Make sure that the siblings’ tasks and responsibilities are age appropriate and they don’t feel overburdened.
It is important for siblings of children with special needs to feel important and loved. Open and honest communication between parents and children can help create a more conducive and welcoming environment for the family, and help siblings thrive.