When One Of Your Kids Has A Special Need, They All Do

Sometimes one child in a family needs more attention than other children.

It could be that one child has a physical disability, an illness, a behavioural condition, anxiety, or genuinely is the spawn of Satan. Through no fault of anyone, some parents have children who require different needs to address on a daily basis.

We’re spoiled with guides on how to ‘manage’ children with additional needs. From Triple-P to Supernanny, there’s an industry generates its income from providing parenting advice.

Special Needs

It’s a good thing. The amount of resources available to support parents is greater now than at any point in human history. Google has seen to that. We’ve certainly learned an immense amount about our littlest one’s anxiety issues which we try our best to implement.

But, while we’re using all the learned techniques to make both her and our lives run more smoothly, we have to be sure that we don’t forget to ‘parent’ our other young daughter who doesn’t have these issues.

The Other Child

It would be easy to think that, because the other child doesn’t have the same worries, she’s doing fine, but that may not be the case.

Our five year old has had a lot of anxiety problems. She had some difficulties towards the end of her nursery education and spends a lot of time trying to annoy her six year old sister. It got so bad that we ended up seeking help with the health visitor, the community nurse and the school. They didn’t help.

Because of this, we have to “parent” her differently. We have to over-praise the good stuff she does and be extra-attentive. But what happens if we do that to her, but not to our other kids?

Special Needs

Recently, our six-year-old has started baby-talking and squealing when she’s upset. This is a fairly new thing, and a bit of a surprise. Academically, she’s flying through school and doing magnificently. She’s a smart cookie and the happiest child I know. I wonder, though, if she’s seen the additional attention that her younger sister has been receiving and is reacting to that.

It’s entirely natural. I can understand why seeing us almost over-parenting her sibling would cause her to change. Maybe she’s thinking that, if she goes into baby-mode, we’ll give her the attention that a baby gets.

We now have to balance things up. It’s tough. You don’t get classes in this stuff. Damn, I didn’t get classes in many useful life skills. Changing a plug, claiming Tax Credits, how to deal with supporting a football club that can never win. You know, the stuff you have to deal with in life.

What we have learned is that if you are going to have to adapt a parenting approach for one child, then you must consider how that will impact on the other child/children too.

First photo by Morgan Basham on Unsplash

1 Comment

  1. 21 November 2017

    This is fascinating. I used to work for a charity that carried out medical research. one of its studies was on the siblings of kids with severe epilepsy. it found they carried a huge burden of responsibility knowing they would – in later life – be responsible for their sibling. I think you’re absolutely right. If one child has a special need, it will impact on their brother / sister and this always has to be kept in mind.

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