Supporting The Sibling Of An Often-Dysregulated KidJan 18, 2024
"I feel sad for the younger sibling of my often-dysregulated kid. How do I shift my thinking here?"
First, you're not alone.
It's common to feel some measure of heartbreak at seeing the dynamics between your children play out, day after day, moment after moment. Many feel anguish at the unequal distribution of parental resources in their family dynamic. Needs are not always being met equally.
We can hold the pain alongside the richness and the gift. Our children have an unparalleled opportunity to learn about disability, accommodation, and inclusion. That true respect goes to everyone-- regardless of how their behavior shows up or how easy they are to love. We show what the depth of compassion really looks like. Our kids are getting this incredible opportunity to learn how to love.
Make space to deeply see and hear their experience.
We also must make sure that our kids feel truly seen and understood. All of their needs don't need to be met all the time when their core needs for validation, understanding, compassion, trust and autonomy are all met. You might say, "It can be really hard sometimes when [sibling] is having a hard time. What's that like for you?"
We all do well when we can.
We are all learning and growing.
Explicitly teach this in your family. Everyone has their own strengths and struggles. Everyone is growing and learning on their own time table. Don't compare your kids to one another, but remember that they are each a miracle, unfolding before your eyes. A human fully alive is wondrous to behold.
Where are the places where the kids' needs are coming into conflict?
Get really specific with the situations when it appears that their needs are in conflict. Turn these situations around. Teach our kids to ask, "How can I get my needs met without asking too much of my struggling sibling?" That's the core of this method -- meeting our own needs while honoring others' limits and boundaries.
Collaborate on specific challenges
How can you and the kids solve these specific challenges together as a team? Work on one particular challenge at a time. Approach this situation with an attitude of abundance. "In our family, there is enough." It will be hard. It will be specific. But it is doable because there is more than enough love in your family to meet the challenge ahead.
Start with the gift that our kids are receiving in their loving relationship to a sibling with challenging behaviors. We don't do it to hide, mask, or "bright side" the hard stuff, but to hold the incredible gift that is every person. The gift that nestles within every experience of accommodation and true respect.
Why is everything so hard?
Take this quick quiz to find out where you're getting stuck in your challenging parenting life and one next step to move forward with confidence.