Updated: Aug 26, 2021
Having a child with special educational needs is challenging, imagine being the sibling, of a child with special educational needs, also challenging. Many parents often feel slightly guilty for overlooking their other children, in the flurry of activity surrounding the former. It is important to remember that you are a human being, doing the best you can. You have been blessed with an important member of your child's team, your child's brother or sister!
It is quiet knowledge that they will share in the future responsibility of caring for them. It's sometimes easy to put their needs on the back burner, so we have found five ways to re-prioritize the needs of children who have siblings with special needs.
Sibling Support Night
Pick one day a week, and gather some siblings of children with special needs to meet for an hour. These sessions are great for playing games, working on art projects, and talking with other siblings who understand their experiences.
Special Daily Rituals
Create a special thing to do with your child, it can be as simple as a bedtime routine, of reading stories or talking. Drinking hot chocolate, watching an episode of a show together, going for a walk before school, walking to school...It can be anything where you and your child can have a short, special one-to-one time. You will be surprised that a small ritual like this can help build your relationship, provide emotional security and develop self-regulation.
It is not uncommon for siblings to express negative emotions, thoughts, or worries. As a parent, stay calm and try to listen, without judgment. Make sure that your child knows that your love is unconditional and that you understand what they are feeling.
Kid swap or Sleepover
This may be a tough one, but if you know a family whose children are close to the ages of your children with similar needs then, when the sibling tension is running high in both families, try to swap kids – younger siblings go to one house, older siblings go to the other house. Everyone wins in that scenario. Or organize a sleepover and siblings can "get away" for the night.
Volunteer in the classroom
If once a week doesn’t fit your schedule, consider signing up for a school event or program. Some teachers ask parents to come in and talk about their career choice or area of expertise once a year. This is a great way to make siblings feel special because they will know that you are there just for them.