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1 SIBLINGS Geoff Bowen Psychologist, Statewide Vision Resource Centre.

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1 1 SIBLINGS Geoff Bowen Psychologist, Statewide Vision Resource Centre

2 2 Aims of Presentation Discuss the effects on children of having a brother or sister with a disability/special need. Provide information about some of the likely concerns and feelings of siblings and some practical ideas for parents about how best to support siblings. Parents quality of life and its importance in the wellbeing of all their children. How to promote resilience in yourself and your children.

3 3 Children and Emotions Children make decisions in the same way and for the generally the same reasons that adults do. People are disturbed not by things, but by the views which they take of them. (Epictetus)

4 4 Emotions Manage your emotions or they will manage you. You cant manage your life until you manage your emotions. Lynn Clark (2002).

5 5 Not all siblings will experience negative feelings towards their brother or sister with a disability. Some children adjust well, while others have a more difficult time. Some children may even appear to be coping well but there may be some signs that they are feeling stressed by the situation, for example, they may lose their temper easily, withdraw, have nightmares or show clingy behaviour. There may also be different reactions depending on whether the sibling is younger or older than the child with the disability. (Siblings, CCA document)

6 6 Concerns of Siblings Anger, jealousy, resentment and embarrassment. Guilt. Fear, loneliness and grief. Frustration.

7 7 Concerns of Siblings Pressure from parents. Overburdened with responsibilities. Worry about the future. Desire to compensate their parents for their siblings disability.

8 8 Danger, Danger, Danger When I had a disabled child my right to a happy and fulfilled life was over. I must completely sacrifice myself to my disabled child because I was the one that gave them life and I am responsible for it.

9 9 Parents and Quality of Life If parents have the best quality of life they can, while still being responsible and caring parents, they can more easily handle the problems that can occur having a disabled child. If parents are functioning well they tend to do the things that effective parents do. Looking after yourself helps all of your children. Emotionally healthy people have a reasonable degree of self interest!

10 10 Managing Your Emotions soothing and calming ourselves when upset practicing self control managing anger controlling impulses expressing emotions at the right time and place avoiding sustained anxiety, anger and depression

11 11 handling inevitable defeats and setbacks preventing negative emotions from dominating our judgement and problem solving tolerating frustration accepting and valuing ourselves (Lyn Clark,2002)

12 12 Emotional Intelligence Knowing our emotions. Managing our emotions. Recognising emotions in others. Managing relationships with others. Motivating ourselves to achieve our goals.

13 13 1. Focus on the sibling: Give them individual time. Respite for them. Encouragement and praise. ACKNOWLEDGE ALL of children's FEELINGS about their siblings with special needs. Model and develop their abilities to manage their emotions especially when faced with lifes difficulties.

14 14 2. Realistic expectations and support : They are children or young people. Involve them in decision making. Avoid comparisons among siblings even positive ones. Encourage out of family activities.

15 15 Have equal standards of behaviour. Focus on children's ABILITIES rather than DISABILITIES; Encourage ABILITIES Stop worrying about spending EQUAL time with children, focus on individual needs and showing children that they are loved UNIQUELY.

16 16 3. Listen to your child and encourage open communication: Dont just hear what they say listen to them. Recognise and validate their feelings. Share your own feelings. Discuss with them ways to cope with their feelings about dealing with their sibling. Outside professional assistance may be necessary.

17 17 4. Provide Information: Provide accurate and clear information about their sibling. Make the information developmentally appropriate. Discuss future responsibilities. Discuss their risks in relation to the disability.

18 18 When To Seek Help If sibling rivalry gets out of hand or parents see signs of depression or anxiety, counselling may be in order for children or the family. Watch for: sleep or appetite disturbance, hopelessness, poor concentration, low self-esteem, talk of hurting oneself, loss of interest in activities, frequent crying or worrying, difficulty separating from parents, perfectionism, or what can be physical symptoms of emotional distress (headaches or stomach aches).

19 19 Elements of Resilience To overcome adversity children, youth and adults need to draw from three sources of resilience: I HAVE, I AM AND I CAN.

20 20 I Have People around me I trust and who love me, no matter what. People who set limits for me so I know when to stop before there is danger or trouble. People who show me how to do things right by the way they do things. People who want me to learn to do things on my own. People who help me when I am sinking, in danger, or need to learn.

21 21 I Am A PERSON WHO CAN LIKE OR LOVE Glad to do nice things for others and show my concern. Respectful of others and myself. Willing to be responsible for what I do. A person who can manage my emotions even when faced with severe challenge. (Geoff Bowen)

22 22 I Can Talk to others about things that frighten or bother me. Find ways to solve the problems I face. Control myself when I feel like doing something not right or dangerous. Figure out when it is a good time to talk to someone or take action. Find someone to help me when I need it. (What Families Taught Us About Resilience- Edith Grotberg)

23 23 Outcomes for Siblings Despite the potential problems, being the sibling of a special-needs child can have plusses. Research indicates they're more likely to develop such positive traits as maturity, social competence, ability to get along with others, insight, empathy, tolerance of differences between people, pride in family accomplishments and loyalty.They have more negative issues to deal with but they have opportunity for personal growth and character development. (Siblings Without Rivalry, by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish)

24 24 Danger, Other Parenting Myths If I make a mistake, it will always affect my child. As a parent, I have the power to make my children do whatever I want and the responsibility to make them do whats right.

25 25 Parenting Myths My children cause my unhappiness, so they must change for me to feel better. Children are naturally undisciplined and behave like wild animals. Parents must beat them into shape to make them civilized. It is my responsibility to solve my childrens problems and to protect them from lifes threats.

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