Providing Support to Siblings of Disabled Children

You want to give each of your children the attention they deserve as a parent. Parenting a child who requires special medical attention can be difficult. But you can start providing support to siblings of your disabled children by spending time with them together.

When you have a new baby, it may feel like you have no time for your older children, and they may begin to feel like they’re missing out. Understanding what your child or teen may be thinking and feeling can be helpful.

For the sake of your other children, you can alleviate their anxieties by addressing their inquiries truthfully and in an age-appropriate way. Sibling bonds can deepen when each child feels heard, appreciated, and accepted for who they are as a member of the family.

Here’s what kids at various ages and stages of development might say or do.

What Can I Do to Help My Child?

Set aside some time for your family to spend together. In the minds of young children, the world revolves around them and their desires. Then it can be difficult to explain why a sibling needs more time with you. Your preschooler will benefit from one-on-one time with you. Playing a game or allowing your youngster to help you in the kitchen during meals can help you get some much-needed alone time with your child.

Describe clearly and concisely. Don’t be afraid to use basic language when answering questions from younger siblings concerning their sibling’s talents. Instead of “boo-boo,” use words like “cerebral palsy.” As a result, they aren’t as concerned about minor injuries on a daily basis. Say, “Your brother has cerebral palsy, and he has difficulty walking.” Make it clear to your child that cerebral palsy is a condition that makes it difficult for them to accomplish the same activities as other children.

Reassuring words can go a long way. As “magical thinkers,” children of this age believe in such things as hot tea and monsters under the bed. Having a sibling with exceptional health care needs can cause children to mistakenly believe that a handicap is equivalent to a typical cold. The disease of cerebral palsy is not contagious, and it is not the fault of either of the children involved. Reassure your child of this fact.

What Can I Do to Help My Teen?

Assign realistic obligations. For example, you can ask your teen for additional babysitting or housework help. Teenagers may feel more pressure than they should take on more responsibilities than they are capable of at this stage in their development. You shouldn’t expect too much from me. The choice to babysit should be made available to you. This will give kids a sense of agency over how much time they devote to volunteerism.

Don’t expect “perfection” from yourself or others. To ensure that their parents don’t worry about them, typically developing children may put extra pressure on themselves to be flawless. When it comes to education and extracurricular activities, don’t set yourself up for failure by aiming too high.

Encourage exploration in a safe way. Teens are grappling with their independence from their parents. In addition, a teen who has a disabled sibling may have difficulty adjusting to life without that sibling. Let your adolescent know that, as long as he or she does it in a responsible manner, wanting more freedom and exposure to the outside world is natural and healthy.

Make a long-term strategy. As teenagers approach maturity, they may begin to worry about the future and wonder who will take care of their younger siblings if they are no longer there. Whatever the future brings, you and your family must find a solution that works for everyone.

How Do I Help My Children Manage Their Emotions?

When it comes to siblings, there are those who are able to bounce back from adversity and those who are more sensitive and take things to heart. Emotional expression is essential for these children. Emotional distress can be alleviated by writing in a journal, engaging in physical activity, or engaging in the creative arts, such as dancing or music.

Anxiety, depression, or another issue may manifest itself in your child’s sleep, appetite, or behavior. Mental health professionals should be sought out for your child if this occurs. That’s why it’s vital to start providing support to the siblings of your disabled children as soon as possible.

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