Strategies to Meet the Needs of Typical Siblings
Strategies to meet the needs of typical siblings are the focus of this post by clinical neuropsychologist and special needs parent Jessica Temple. She shares 6 ways to show typical siblings how much they matter to your family.
My husband and I are working on balancing the needs of our two children. These are some of the strategies we are using.
Ensure that all children are physically and emotionally safe. This means every child needs a safe place in the home and is not at risk of being hurt.
Communicate with typical siblings. In age-appropriate language, discuss the condition your child with special needs lives with, what it means, how it affects your family, and if typical siblings can catch it. Provide time for questions.
Acknowledge and praise milestones and accomplishments of typical siblings. Thank them for their help, understanding, patience, and the time they put in.
Give typical siblings time with friends. Also provide time with other kids who “get it” through in person and online sibling support groups.
Make sure to spend quality alone time with typical siblings. Be creative. Offer snuggle time in the morning, have secret jokes or rituals, present a special meal or ice cream time, go on an outing, or have special reading time. Be sure you are fully present and in the moment with just that one child.
Help your child develop coping strategies. These are a few favorite mindfulness and meditation strategies to try with your child:
- Breathe in like an expanding balloon and exhaling as if blowing out a candle.
- Create a mental/visual bubble that blocks out stress and lets all their favorite things inside.
- Picture stress drifting down a stream on a leaf or floating away on a cloud.
- Take mindful walks.
Our family has made some positive strides using these strategies to meet the needs of typical siblings. It’s a process, but we are confident that we can raise both children to be happy and well-adjusted humans.
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Jessica Temple, PsyD, ABPP-CN, is a board-certified adult clinical neuropsychologist. She has two children who have special needs. She and her husband, Lewis, host a podcast called Thriving in The Midst of Chaos, where they talk about all aspects of special needs including getting a diagnosis and treatment, self-care, relationships, transitioning to adulthood, school, and finances. They created Thriving in The Midst of Chaos to offer support to others in the special needs world as well as to provide an easy way to find the most useful resources. They aim to share helpful resources with others, advocate for improvement, change in the special needs world, and offer a different perspective on parenting. To find out more about how Jessica’s work can help you, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or @midstofchaospod on all social media platforms.
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