blog 15.10.14When one or more children in a family have a learning disability or ADHD, the entire family unit may feel the stress of the day-to-day struggles of school and family life. In my last post we looked at a way to observe where the sibling who does not experience a disability may be emotionally reacting to her role in this family dynamic. 

Dr. Sheldon Horowitz offers helpful advice to parents on how to better understand and lend support:

It's only natural that siblings will compete for their parents’ attention, and it's no different in families where there is a child with a learning disability. Misbehaving or acting out is often the way that children call attention to themselves, but underlying these actions is more often than not a genuine call for help. It is not uncommon for siblings of children with LD to share that they:

  • Feel jealous of the extra attention being paid to others in the family
  • Think they alone feel the way they do and see themselves as “outsiders” in their own families
  • Resent all the attention being paid to others and wonder what they could do to regain some of the spotlight
  • Feel guilty that their sibling has a “problem” when they don't
  • Are embarrassed by having to make excuses or explain why their sibling can't do certain things or needs special attention
  • Are worried about their parents and how hard it is for them to meet everyone's needs in the family

Evaluating the root cause of troubling behavior is always the best approach to take if you want to effect relationship change.  If we are punishing the end behavior, without evaluating the cause, learning opportunities are surely missed.

For Dr. Horowitz’s take-away tips, continue reading the article “Living With Siblings Who Have Learning Disabilities” from the NCLD website.

Stay tuned for more on supporting healthy family dynamics as Dr. Mary Ann Mulcahey brings further perspective to the topic of sibling conflict, and avoiding the “victim” mentality.

Blogger Barbara Hunter, MEd, shares her expertise in the use of technology to support learning.


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