The Other Child…

MY VIEWS, NEWS | | November 8, 2010 at 7:10 pm

As I watch my 3 year old act out pulling her 5 year old sister’s hair for the 100th time instinctively I wanted to punish her by taking some favorite toy or at the very least a timeout. The only issue is I would have doled several of those in a day for all the hitting or throwing stuff already. To an onlooker it may sound like a open and shut case of an undisciplined child, but this mama knew better.

I may have cut her more slack than needed as I am perpetually exhausted and disciplining is tiresome on a parent. But it could also be because I know it is tough being a sibling to a kid with special needs. Being jostled around from therapy to therapy where waiting rooms are practically a second home would throw a wrench into anyone’s schedules – except we all know after the first kid the schedules for subsequent kids are nonexistent.

If that was not enough to stress one out, the fact that trying to connect with your sibling whose disabilities hinder the social connection you so crave might leave one frustrated to say the least and rather incomplete. Not being content at the somewhat futility of her acts, the little one pushes (and pushes) hoping to stir up something.

Last week I mentioned my frustration to a therapist, who weekly witnessed me barely being able to listen to feedback of my older daughter’s session  as the 2 girls squabbled.  I added that I thought that my younger child actually felt “jealous” of the “fun” in therapy. She suggested a short time in the session with her sister for the next time. When I relayed this to my husband, I could see my 3 year old’s ears perked up. But I had no idea how intently she had been listening. Last week, after patiently (I should have realized something was going on when she behaved perfectly while there) waiting for her sister to come out  of a therapy session with another therapist she waited for a moment and approached the therapist. She said “I heard you might have a trampoline back there and maybe next time I could go see it with you too?” My jaw dropped as I realized she had been planning this line for a while. I was so proud that she vocalized her thoughts and was so proud of her. When the therapist said maybe that could happen, she was content.

Today when she was invited for “special” time – her face lit up – and though she still had to wait some time in the waiting room – being allowed into the hidden world of her sister’s seemed to be just what she needed. Well, for now anyway.

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  1. 1
    RonaOT says:

    This is wonderful. I struggle with the parents of my early intervention kiddos. It is really okay to have their siblings present toward the end or the beginning, but I do support clear boundaries. Nonetheless, I loved how your family handled this. You’ve got a cutie there!

  2. 2

    Not sure whether this is good news or bad news, but my kids (who, as you know, are very close in age to your kids) act EXACTLY the same way. My daughter is forever attacking her bother (a phenomenon which I call “too much love”), and we aren’t dealing with the therapies or any disabilities that seem to impact their interactions. I, too, sometimes just throw up my hands in despair because if I disciplined her every time she misbehaved, she’d spend the entire day in timeout (my husband has come home on many days to a stack of her toys on the counter that she had lost due to misbehavior). I think that second children crave attention, even under the most ideal family situations. If you come up with a way to get the youngest to stop torturing the oldest, or to minimize the constant fighting, let me know. It’s incredibly exhausting.

  3. 3
    melissa says:

    my kids are constantly fighting. i’m constantly yelling and breaking up fights, taking away privileges and more than anything, i sound like a broken record.
    i’m exhausted!

  4. 4
    Julie says:

    I just love how sweetly your younger daughter asked for a turn. Just makes me melt, as I’m sure you melted with pride. Its also really good to hear that the therapists are inviting her in. I think a big part of the therapy involves the whole family, and that can’t be overlooked.

  5. 5

    Hi, there. I’m so sorry it’s been a while since I’ve been by to visit, glad I found my way back! And how did I not realize you had a kid on the spectrum? One of the big, big, ever expanding & difficult issues in my house is the fighting between my twins.

    Ethan has gone from feeling hurt and rejected by his autistic twin brother to resentful and bitter and angry. I would say that the non-relationship between them is the thing that I cry the most about of anything in my life for some time now. I have written posts all about it and often allude to it in others. It just sucks!

    I wish I had answers for you. I wish I had answers for me. I wish it weren’t so hard to have 2 kids with such different needs and developmental ages, even though their physical ages are so close (and in my case, exactly the same). Big sighs all around. Big hugs too. I’ll be back soon.

  6. 6
    Meghan says:

    Thanks for sharing one of the good moments. As all of us with multiple kids know, sibling “love” can be a bit rough. So glad the therapist was open to inclusion. Goodness knows sibling interaction is a huuuuuuge part of any child’s daily social life (if you have a sib) so the therapist ought to want to view that and give you some take-away tips. AND…your littlest feels included, special, and connected. *sigh*

    That IS a good moment.

    Now, for how to tackle the rest of the moments….

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