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vie, abr 1, 2022 2:40 PM

My elder son resents his brother’s special needs – how can I help him understand?

I have two wonderful sons aged seven and three. My issue is that my older son does not understand that his brother has additional needs and resents the extra attention he gets. My youngest is being assessed for autism, and has significant traits. He needs constant supervision and has routines that must be followed or he gets distressed. Our eldest finds this frustrating and blames his brother for ruining everything.

My eldest is very bright and engaging. He demands attention and has always been melodramatic, even at a young age. He gets frustrated his brother won’t play with him and says he’s weird.

When the youngest does his routines with chairs, toys, cups etc, the eldest will call him weird and seek to disrupt things. The youngest will react if what he is doing is messed up, but he ignores his older brother – and all other children – most of the time. I want them to have the best sibling relationship possible but it would help if my little one gave his brother something back.

We have told our older son that his brother needs more help with some things. I think he just thinks he’s being difficult or we’re pandering to him. A diagnosis is some way off – but I don’t want to label him prematurely. How can we make my eldest son understand more and be a bit more empathetic to his little brother? Any help much appreciated.

What a lot you all have on your plate. As a parent, you have all the usual hurdles with making things fair between siblings, and on top of that a younger child with additional needs. But as you say, your eldest is very young to understand it all. There’s a tendency to see older siblings as much bigger than they are when a younger sibling comes along.

I went to Sibs, which helps siblings of disabled children and adults, and spoke to Linda Owen, the information officer for young siblings. We thought you might be expecting your eldest son to understand a lot – too much. All you can really do at this age is acknowledge his feelings, not tell him what he should or shouldn’t be feeling.

You don’t want your older son to feel he has to be good, to not cause any trouble

Linda Owen
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