When one child in a family is struggling with emotional or behavioral issues, it affects the whole family. For parents, taking care of the child in distress can become all-consuming, and it can be difficult to make sure siblings are getting what they need, too.
A child who isn’t the one with special needs, who seems to be doing fine—or may be acting as if he’s doing fine—may, in fact, be struggling, too.
Here are some ways siblings might be affected, and things you can to do help them respond to the challenge in a healthy way.
Disturbed by behavior
Other children in the family are affected most when a psychiatric or developmental disorder results in frequent outbursts—dramatic meltdowns or rages, or aggression towards other family members.
It’s natural to be upset when another child is yelling or having a tantrum—these things are upsetting for parents, too, notes Mandi Silverman, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute. A child might be in tears while it’s happening, but most kids bounce back and are able to take them in stride, especially if they understand that their brother or sister has an illness that makes it hard for them to control their emotions and their behavior.