Education.com
Try
Brainzy
Try
Plus

Special Needs Siblings Have Special Needs, Too! (page 2)

By
Updated on Dec 16, 2008

So, as you navigate the ups and downs of family life with a special needs child, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Remember that the siblings of special needs kids are kids first. Before “blaming” sibling problems or family issues on the challenges around living with special needs, first see if there is another reason that is unrelated to the special needs. Maybe the sibling is acting out because he or she is having a hard time at school or a problem with friends or a girl/boy friend. Look at the whole child first, before assuming that it is the issue of special needs that is causing the problem. Again, when parents feel guilty, the situation is more easily confused.
  2. Parents set the model for good problem solving, conflict resolution and coping skills. The children will learn to cope with hard times and the sibling’s special needs by watching and learning from the parent. Does a parent whine and complain about the situation? Is a parent angry and frustrated? Do the parents fight with each other over the problems? Do they “blame” the ill child for their financial, marital, and relational problems? If so, you can bet the siblings will, too.
  3. Parents must take good care of themselves. Not only is this important to avoid burnout but again, it sets the model for the children. This means that parents take the time for date nights and self-care time. This also means that parents do not tolerate disrespect from the children (or each other). They set healthy boundaries around the many demands that come with raising a disabled/ special needs child.
  4. Focus on thankfulness and the positive. Foster a spirit of helpfulness, cooperation and appreciation for each other and the blessings that are present. Make it a practice to count your families’ blessings together each day: jobs, a roof, food, medical insurance, freedom, friends and family, resilience, compassion, depth, love, faith and hope. 
  5. Learn effective parenting skills. Parents must have good, effective parenting skills to rely on. There is no substitute for knowing how to defuse arguing, setting limits without causing power struggles and communicating about difficult issues.
  6. Don’t always make ill/disabled children the focal point of the family. They are a part of the family, not the family. Don’t define/ label yourselves as parents of a child with a disability. We are all people, first, with hopes, dreams, fears, needs and gifts. 
  7. Don’t overcompensate for your guilty feelings of not being able to spend enough time with the siblings. Some parents try to “make it all better” with material things and not setting limits when it is appropriate to do so. This creates more problems than you actually solve. Entitlement (aka “spoiled child syndrome”) can become a real danger in homes with special needs kids because it leads to kids who become hostile-dependent. This is when people think they are entitled to something and when they don’t get it become angry, resentful, blaming and bitter. We’ve seen far too many relationships destroyed by these sad responses.
It is true that in the end, siblings will be there long after parents are gone but a parent’s influence, both positive and negative, can last generations. By purposefully nurturing relationships and responding effectively to the challenges that arise, parents can leave a legacy of children who grow up to be responsible, resilient, independent, and supportive.
 
                                              

From the book “Parenting Children with Health Issues: Essential Tools, Tips and Tactics for Raising Kids with Chronic Illness, Medical Conditions and Other Special Needs”by Foster Cline, M.D and Lisa C. Greene available online and bookstores. Dr. Cline is a well-known child psychiatrist, author, and co-founder of the popular Love and Logic parenting program. Lisa is the mother of two children with cystic fibrosis and a parent educator. For free audio, articles and other resources, visit   http://www.ParentingChildrenWithHealthIssues.com.
 
Copyright 2008 by Foster Cline MD and Lisa Greene. All rights reserved.
View Full Article
Add your own comment
DIY Worksheets
Make puzzles and printables that are educational, personal, and fun!
Matching Lists
Quickly create fun match-up worksheets using your own words.
Word Searches
Use your own word lists to create and print custom word searches.
Crossword Puzzles
Make custom crossword puzzles using your own words and clues.
See all Worksheet Generators