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How To Keep Harmony In A Family With Special Needs Children

By: Shevach Pepper

Peter was a hyperactive 7 year old child. He was disruptive and aggressive. He attended a Special Education school and was taking "Ritalin". This helped him attain some kind of normalcy in his behaviour. In addition it enabled him to learn.

However Peter could not always control his behaviour and often times there were outbursts in the house. His Mother explained this to the children. She said she understood it might be embarrassing for them, especially in the presence of company. She gave them a book from the library to read, on the subject of "hyperactivity". This proved to be an extremely useful aid for them. The book had a wealth of information, and advice.To the younger children Peter's Mother gently explained Peter's problem in a general way. She encouraged them to try not to provoke him and to be nice to him.

Parents have to realize that their special needs child is part of a whole family and just like she needs special attention and help to cope with her unique challenges, the other siblings also need help to deal and cope with their feelings of embarrassment, anger and fear. If these issues are not dealt with it they could grow up with low self esteem, pent up anger and difficulties to express their emotions.

Children can be explained certain facts about the special-needs sibling, in accordance with their level of maturity. Younger children can be spoken to in a more general manner, whilst older children should be given more information about the nature of the problem. Siblings should feel free to discuss any worries or doubts that bother them. This will help them maintain their self-esteem.

Siblings must understand their special-needs brother/sister encounters difficulties in many areas. They have to work on coming to terms with their feelings so that there should be a positive, constructive, productive home atmosphere. Parents should spend time talking to their children. If necessary, discussions should take place with each child separately and as often as required.

The parents should help the siblings of a special needs child:

To tackle points 1 and 2, explain your child that life's situations are mostly not within our control. What is within our control is our attitude to life's ups and downs. If we view a situation positively, as an opportunity to grow and become better human beings, we will be happier people. If we cannot change a situation, we must accept it. Focus on being positive and thinking positively.

Practical tips for siblings:

  1. Don't insist on having the last word, even if you are intelligent enough to win all arguments.
  2. Don't insist on having your way, even if you are sure you are right.
  3. Try to keep slightly low-key about your accomplishments, when your special-needs sibling is around.
  4. Try to help out with whatever you can, to help alleviate the burden.
  5. Be encouraging and supportive to the other siblings.
  6. Above all, cultivate a positive attitude.

Harmony in the home is vital to ensure all children grow up well adjusted and with healthy self-esteem. This produces happy relationships to the benefit of all family members.

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