Growing up with a sibling is a source of learning. It is the first intense bond that one has with an equal that becoming a close relationship that will guide us throughout life and that determines our own personality and the way in which we relate to others.
Being next to a brother is a continuous training. It is used to discuss, share, play, negotiate, give in, be patient, fight envy, etc. When one of the brothers is special it does not necessarily have to be negative, but it is a fact that it can produce concern and ambiguous feelings in children and parents.
Children are very affected by everything that happens in their environment. If one of the siblings has special needs, this will influence the dynamics of the family. The siblings of a child with a disability experience feelings that are difficult for other people to understand and that as time goes by they will evolve as well as the needs of the sibling.
Growing up with a child with special needs can awaken sensations and feelings such as:
- Feel guilty. These children often think they had something to do with their brother's illness.
- Loneliness and rage. The difficulty of sharing feelings with other equals in the same situation or the need for more attention from parents are the triggers for the emotions that appear when feeling alone, or isolated. The family and the environment must cover the child to normalize the situation so that this does not happen.
- Feeling of fear. Young children have a hard time understanding why their sibling is different from others.
- Shame. This feeling appears as children get older. Knowing that the family to which one belongs is not the same as that of other friends or having to answer uncomfortable questions from peers, etc. They are difficult situations for the child.
The experience that a child can experience with a special sibling depends on the degree of and type of disability he has. In addition, age also counts. The maturational and emotional skills are conditioning factors of the experience of the sibling's disability. The environment and the degree of cohesion of the family, how they communicate or help each other can facilitate or hinder living with a brother in need.
Anger, shame, guilt are feelings that this type of children can experience, but if help is provided from the environment and the family, these children gain autonomy and personal growth. But how the environment can help:
- Communication. It is important that since children are young, parents learn and use resources to be able to report the characteristics of the sibling's disability and its evolution.
- Involve the child in decisions. This creates security in the child, which is essential to combat the feeling of fear that is generated in the child. In addition, integrating it in decisions makes the child make a commitment to help care for and take care of his brother in the future
- Learn about what happens. Knowing about the origin of the disease and what it consists of in order to improve your quality of life can become a life project.
- Mutual aid between equals. It is an activity in which children meet with siblings with needs in which they meet as a group to explain their concerns and fears. Led by a therapist and in which different objectives are addressed
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