Carolyn Dalgliesh, founder of Systems for Sensory Kids, is thrilled to be doing a four-part guest blog series for 46 Mommas Shave for the Brave – The 46 Mommas are on a mission to raise awareness, raise funds for research and inspire others to help fund a cure for childhood cancer.  As a professional organizer and a “sensory” mom, Carolyn is honored to be a sponsor of 46 Mommas and to have an opportunity to support these amazing parents with sensory organizing tips!  

Sibling Support

Now that we have some tools in place for supporting our children who are living with a medical condition and/or innate neurological challenges (like those living with ADHD/ADD, anxiety disorder, OCD, sensory processing disorder or autism), it is time to support their siblings. Life with a special needs sibling can present some daily challenges for our typical children – unpredictable or embarrassing behavior, going to doctors appointments and seeing their brother or sister uncomfortable or in pain, or last minute changes in plans – and they will need our support in different ways.  Here are a few simple tips to help you support your typical child’s experience:

Let them Express their Feelings 

Validate their experience – help them understand that it is expected for them to have times of anger and frustration towards their sibling and/or their sibling’s experience.  Drawing pictures or doing simple worksheets can help kids connect with their feelings in a more tangible way.  Occasionally, help them balance out their negative feelings by giving them an opportunity to identify the gifts that come from the experiences with their sibling.

Teach Them Coping Skills

When your child is feeling overwhelmed with living with their sibling’s medical or neurological challenges, give them a few ways to cope.  You can help them write up a list of things they like to do that help them calm down like deep breathing exercises and/or give them some safe ways to escape like reading a book or watching a favorite movie.

Get Special Time Alone

As parents of children that need extra support, we may also be dealing with typical siblings who often feel left out.  Set-up a time weekly to get time alone with your typical child and make it a point to do something that taps into one of their fascinations or interests.  One Ground Rule – No talking about anything except everyday normal things!

Learn to appreciate and support your typical child’s experience.  Take some time to help them express their feelings, give them some tangible coping skills, and get some one-on-one time with them each week.  These tools will help them managed their feelings and be ready to embrace the gifts that come with their special journey.  Simple supports for more peaceful days!