Middle Childhood Intervention: Module Four – Putting it all Together

Category — Step Seven

Step Seven

My other children sometimes seem to resent their sibling with special needs


If you have more than one child, you may begin to notice that your typically developing children may show certain negative feelings towards their sibling with special needs. Some of these feelings may include:

  • Resentment: they may resent their sibling with special needs because you may be spending  a lot of time with him or her. They may also resent this sibling because they may feel that he or she is allowed to get away with a lot of things that they themselves are not allowed to get away with;
  • Shame: they may be ashamed of their sibling with special needs. They may wish that this sibling went to a different school;
  • Envy: they may feel jealous of this sibling because of all the attention that he or she may be given by you as well as other members of your extended family, especially the grandparents;
  • Guilt: they may feel guilty because of the feelings of resentment, shame or jealousy that they may have towards their sibling.

It is important to remember that your typically developing children are children. They may have had to grow up a little bit faster than other children, but they are still children. What they may be feeling is a natural process that many siblings of children with special needs go through. This will pass and your typically developing children will most likely turn into extremely caring and empathetic adults. But for this to happen, they need your love and support. Here is how you can support them:

  • Acknowledge their feelings, whatever these feelings are. No one can control how they feel. We can only control what we do with our feelings. Explain to them that everyone has negative and positive feelings, and that all feelings can change;
  • Explain to them why their sibling is getting more attention from you and others. Let them know that this sibling is getting this extra attention because he or she needs it. Let them know that if need this extra attention, they will get it too. And most important of all, let them know that more attention does not mean more love. You may be spending more time with their sibling with special needs because they need that time, but you love all your children equally. They all have a very special place in your heart and nothing will ever change that;
  • Encourage them to attend support groups for siblings of children with special needs. Such support groups are available in person and online. They can be quite helpful;
  • Let them know that they can come to you with any feelings or questions that they may have. Let them know that no question is off limits, taboo, or forbidden;
  • Finally, keep telling them how much you love them. No one gets tired of hearing that they are loved even if they say so. It is better to hear children complain that they hear “I love you” too much, than to hear them complain that they do not hear it enough!

father and daughter

January 19, 2013   No Comments