Tips for supporting your child if they have a sibling with additional needs.
Being a parent to a disabled child comes with lots of additional responsibility, stresses, joys and challenges. This affects the whole family – and here are our tips for supporting a young person who has a sibling with additional needs.
· Encourage your child to ask for attention when they need it. Balancing your time and attention is difficult at the best of times, and this only gets harder when you have a child with additional needs. Teaching your child to ask for attention when they need it ensures their needs are also fulfilled.
· Talk to your child to try and establish boundaries over what information they need to know about their sibling with additional needs. Some young people may find it overwhelming and stressful to know every detail of their sibling’s disability, while others may find it reassuring and comforting to know the full details. Try and strike a balance on how much information to share with your child, and check in with them regularly to see whether there’s anything they want to hear more or less about.
· Invite everyone along to visits with service providers. Extend the invite to all siblings, but don’t require their attendance. If they do want to attend, this can be a great way for them to gain information, feel involved and more equipped to help their sibling.
· Keep the sibling’s additional needs an open topic for discussion. Answer any questions your young person may have about their sibling’s disability honestly.
· Teach your child fun activities they can do with their sibling. Allow for some time where being together is fun, as opposed to being about caring and responsibilities.
· Talk about the future. Talking about the future can help unburden young people with questions they may have about caring for their sibling later in life.
· Ensure your child has space and encouragement to enjoy and live their own life.
Leeds Mencap Siblings Group runs Wednesdays, 6:00 – 8:00. This provides a space where young people who have a sibling with additional needs can meet peers, and offers an environment where they can relax, have fun and take some time to themselves.
For more information about this group, check out our website (link: https://www.leedsmencap.org.uk/how-we-can-help/children-and-young-people/the-siblings-group/)
For additional support on this topic, check out sibs.org (link: https://www.sibs.org.uk/)