Here some suggested organisations that offer expert advice on SN.
Older sibling feelings towards ds(16 Posts)
We're in kind of a bad place with ds at the moment... just started P1 (Scotland)... routine all changed about... no longer having time with just him after nursery like last year... So behaviour isn't brilliant right now!
But, despite all of this I can't help but thinking that his older siblings really don't help the situation. I realise that life is unfair for them, and then don't enjoy having a 'really annoying' little brother (he has a genetic syndrome and ASD, non-verbal)...
Please tell me that someone else has siblings that aren't always wonderful and caring and kind!!!
DD (12) is the worst... for years she'll just growl at ds if he even looks at her. No amount of talking to will get her to change. At her worst she has stated that she hates him and wishes he would die.
DS (8) is following in her footsteps (and just this afternoon prompted me to post this!). Ds was just sitting on his little table in the window watching cars go by and shouting... totally happy! DS (8) screamed at him to shut up every time he made a noise!
DS (10) is the only one who is fairly civil to ds (this is starting to get confusing with all the ds references!). They have the closest bond, but even ds (10) gets fed up every now and then... which in my opinion would be the most 'normal' out of all of the different possibilities!
How can I steer this back into some sort of civil household? Family outings don't happen. If ds is going then no one wants to be out in public with him. If they're in the garden on the swings they'll just ignore ds if he wants to go on and be pushed... they basically try to ignore him or just be totally mean to him for no real reason. They've even given up trying to communicate with him. He uses Makaton now, but they can't be bothered... just shout until he cries.
I should say that we do try to make time to spend alone with each of the older kids as we know it's hard having ds being so demanding day in and day out, but even with that they can't understand that a little kindness might make everything a little better.
God I don't want to ignore but tbh I would simply not tolerate some of the behaviour you are describing.
If any of my children screamed at each other they would be massively in trouble. Screaming at their sibling who has SN would be treated the same.
Maybe you are excusing them too much. Ds1 went through a shit time when ds2 was at his worst but whilst I sympathised and tried to help give him some balance in his life with outings for just us etc, I never would have let him use that as an excuse for being awful to a younger sibling.
I think you need to stop feeling guilty. You need to expect better of them. You are allowing then to let one aspect of their lives excuse cruddy nasty behaviour.
Thank you so much for posting. I couldn't agree with you more! I totally feel like dh and I have let this get totally out of control & because we're usually calming ds down because his behaviour spirals with all the noise/chaos/etc then the older kids walk off and just get on with other things...
When things calm we try to talk to them about their behaviour and acknowledge their feelings towards ds, but they always sound ok in the talks and when real life hits again things just go so wrong.
dh & I both know that their behaviour is totally unacceptable but can't seem to actually stop it. I even brought it up with the CAHMS psych the other day and she didn't really give me any help just that she would refer to a challenging behaviour nurse for ds. I think there is a whole lot more to it than just him!
I'm a big fan of family meetings for older kids (got the idea from how to talk so kids listen). So you call a meeting, the entire family must attend and you present a problem eg 'there are too many unkind words in our family'. Start with just one small fixable problem. Then hand it over to the kids to come up with a solution. Having a strop and refusing to participate isn't an option. For perhaps they agree a set of consequences for unkind words or (even better) a system of rewards for kind words. Set a review date and offer a reward for everyone's participation ( dunno, cinema trip or nice pudding for dessert?). Discourage grassing each other up for not following the family plan by insisting each individual is responsible for their own part in the family plan's success.
I wouldn't make it about ds with SEN specifically because they already moan that it's all about him. Focus on improving general quality of family life.
My kids are still a bit small for this but my sister has had a lot of success with her pre teens and now teens and I intend to try when mine are a bit older.
I have this to a degree with Dd1 and 2, Dd1 moved out several years ago but still comes round to share her pearls of wisdom about my parenting of Dd3.
Dd2 has middle child syndrome and is totally convinced that I always favour Dd3.
I have spent hours and hours trying to explain that if Dd2 is spiteful and deliberately does things to set Dd3 off I will always have to pick up the pieces.
There are massive age gaps between mine Dd2 has now gone residential at college.
You are definitely not alone. Have you tried having a family meeting without your youngest around. Allowing everyone to have their say and to come up with some boundaries and consequences for spiteful behaviour. The older children need to take ownership and responsibility for their behaviour.
Yy . The family meetings thing is a good idea.
We did that often. And saying out loud 'we love you. Think about how you feel when someone shouts at you or is mean to you. No one inthis house, in our home should have to put up with that. Home is where we are all safe and we should care for each other. Think fora minute about how you feel when someone does that to you...'
But op don't feel bad about it.it is incredibly difficult - getting them to give each other a break when life is moretrickythan average. We ALL battle with this.the guilt is awful.
We have been through this a little when DS has been at his worse with routine change ect
What I've found helpful is to overpraise DD every single time she's good with DS.but we do have to have a quiet word once in a while just to remind her that DS can't help being how he is and how we have to all help guide him.this is usually enough food for thought and I see a major improvement that's not being forced.
However brothers and sisters are always going to get on each others nerves it's a tradition
I'm the eldest and had a sibling with major behavioral issues. To a large extent our priviledges were totally dependent on how we treated my youngest SN sibling. Had we behaved the way your eldest is doing we'd have hand washing our own clothes for school, and all non-essential activities would have been banned!
Life lessons (according to my dad)
1. Life is not fair, so deal.
2. Our family is a team - make sure YOU aren't it's weakest link.
3. No matter what the rows behind closed doors - in public it's a united front ALWAYS!
This is wrong "If DS is going noone wants to be seen in public with him." - WTF? Family meeting minus SN sib and lay some fairly simple ground rules, then stick to them. Your oldest is leading the younger ones down the wrong road so tackle her head on and directly. Give her a specific chore to each day with the SN sib and make damn sure she not only does it, but does it with grace.
I don't know any different than to stand tall & proud beside my sibling, & if anyone doesn't like it they can feck off to the far side of fook as far as I'm concerned. Your eldest needs to aquire the same attitude or she'll be a target for bullies if they know she's ashamed of her SN sibling.
This sounds awful for you . I agree with what bochead says - ok, life's not fair but this is our family life so deal with it basically! DS1 was great with DS2 (aspergers) when they were younger but as DS1 is growing up he's getting a teenager attitude and finds his brother's little quirks annoying and embarrassing. He feels it's all about DS2 so I do try to make time for him, but also to make him realise that we are a family and we do stuff together. NAS have some good books for siblings, I like this www.amazon.co.uk/Brotherly-Feelings-Emotions-Aspergers-Syndrome/dp/184310850X but it's quite specific to aspergers so may not suit you. Also, is there any local support for your NT children? DS1 went on a really good course run by our local autism charity which really helped him understand what life was like for DS2. It made him realise that DS2 doesn't do these things specifically to annoy DS1, and it allowed him to vent his frustrations with others in the same boat, as well as gain an insight into how his brother sees the world.
I agree this behaviour needs stamping out now before the eldest hits the teenage years - so a family meeting seems like a good idea.
Are there any groups for 'siblings' of children with disabilities running in your area? Or Young Carers groups? (I know the latter would seem ironic given their lack of care for their younger sibling, but they offer support/treats for children who miss out on 'normal' family life because of a disability in the family). This may be an outlet for them to express their feelings of 'unfairness' outside the family with other children who are in the same situation or specially trained adults who can talk it through with them.
There is also a national support group called Sibs which ay be able to offer you advice/support:
Thank you all so much for everything posted.
The family meeting is a fantastic idea. We have them every so often, but perhaps need to have them more and focus what's being said to more specific topics.
TBH I feel like I've done the listening to them & being all nicey nicey about their feelings so much to the point that they're walking all over us with this.
This afternoon when ds(8) shouted at SN ds I'm afraid I totally lost it as I was trying to just load the dishwasher and SN ds was quite happy while ds(8) was being plain mean! I explained nicely why his behaviour wasn't very kind, while ds(8) gave me his 'justification' for doing it, and then my explanation got much louder and I banned him from screens for the rest of the day. Result is that he was much nicer to ds & the other kids all looking sheepish and being quite calm & nice to each other!
Pagwatch, I always try to tell the kids I love them every single day, and I also try to say sorry if I've been unreasonable or especially ratty during the day. I have lots of off days and I am not perfect, but I try to own up to it and lead by example.
Strongcoffee, that is where we've been... praise & lots of reminders, but they seem to be past that now. Maybe we need to go way back to star charts!
bochead, I love the idea of a chore for dd to do with ds. When they were younger I got each one to do short sessions with ds as part of their 'chores', but it was more like reading him a story, playing a game that ds would enjoy, etc...
They all enjoyed it and it freed me up to get some laundry done or start tea or whatever needed doing.
Somewhere along the way it all disappeared and life turned into the way it is now. I think the kids (mainly dd) refused to do something and I didn't want to 'force' her to play with ds so they drifted apart and now here we are... and this is not how I want our family to be!
Suburban, we have a Sibs group up here but they only meet up once a year... so far our kids have been once and really enjoyed it. I've requested numerous times to SS that we need it to be much more frequently!
I think to some extent the older kids are slightly afraid of SN ds when we go out... he's liable to change temper in a heartbeat and they've seen the wounds on me after taking him out so they give him a wide berth! DS(10) has been on the receiving end of many bites, pinches, had things thrown at him, but as I mentioned before, he is the most understanding of all of them.
Again, thank you all for replying. I know it's a difficult subject and I almost didn't post as I really feel awful talking about the kids like this... but something really needs to change.
We have DS1 (10) DS2 (8) and DS3 (5 and asd).
Older two are resentful of DS3 and see him as the favourite.
But tbh I had 2 sisters and no SN in our house and we all felt someone else was favourite, so i think even if DS3 did not have asd that sort of sibling rivalry would exist. Any negative comments are directed at us not having as much time / favouring DS3 never directed at DS3.
I think the family meeting is a good idea.
I think I would probably target your DS (8) and DS (10) first as their behaviour is probably easier to change - all boys, nearer in age - I would probably get them regularly doing stuff with your youngest DS eg swimming etc and have a zero tolerance issue to any name calling etc (among all three of them) and clear rewards and sanctions.
I think you are going to have to tackle your DD differently - her behaviour is more entrenched, bigger age difference, only girl, nearly teenager etc. I would may be think of giving her jobs to do for your DS eg reading with him, playing with him - it sounds like she needs to spend time with him herself to build up a bond.
DS3 ignores his brothers most of the time and it is hard to sustain a bond when the other two get so little back - but they will tickle him and dance about and play mario kart for him to watch etc things that make him laugh and they do get something out of making him happy. I think siblings can feel rejected by a child with asd and then withdraw. Sometimes I need to point out that DS is communicating with his brothers even if not by speaking eg if he chooses to sit next to them on the sofa and leans on them. They get upset if he does not hold their hand and don't understand why he doesn't like them (as they see it).
I think there is much more peer pressure on girls than boys, an expectation from society that they look perfect etc and that might be a factor too. Is she confident herself? Sometimes children who are self conscious, less extrovert worry more about being different / standing out. My DS1 always wants to fit it, is more shy so we prepared him for DS3 starting school / got him to tell his friends rather than let them find out. We sort of coach him for situations before they happen as otherwise I think he might find it easier to be negative about DS3 than stick up for him.
Oops took me so long to type that I cross posted
Thanks Agnes! DH took the older 3 out on a bike ride to get everyone calm and in a good mind frame for the meeting. We then went at it like it was said earlier and presented some problems that everyone could relate to.
The kids were very keen to come up with some house rules which would be drawn up and laminated so everyone would have a reminder. DS(8) wrote his up last night and gave them to me this morning. The other 2 are still thinking it all through.
When we've all thought through the rules and consequences then we'll talk it through this evening and set everything up. Both boys already (unprompted) said that they were sorry for leaving DS with SN out of things and would try harder to include him.
Like I said, we have heard it before so when we see it in action then they will be rewarded through privileges previously taken for granted.
I heard ds(10) and dd having a conversation where she said she would just stay out of the way then she wouldn't get into trouble... and ds asked her why she didn't just try to get along with them? It got a bit quiet after that, so hopefully ds will set her straight and she'll be on board once she sees what's all happening with the boys.
I know it's tough, but it's like this for all of us and sometime I think they just don't see it that way. As a child I know it's all about 'me', but having a sibling with SN really turns everything upside down!
I knew posting here would give so much more clarity than just sitting down with dh and discussing it for the millionth time... so for that thank you all again for replying.
That sounds a really positive start, so pleased.
Join the discussion
Please login first.