"It's great that your other child is doing well academically, but that success doesn't make up for a lack of attention and affirmation at home," says Patrick Kilcarr, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at Georgetown University, who has written extensively on siblings and how they are affected by disabilities within the family.
want to feel prized in their home," he
says.When you have one exceptionally needy child, it's tough to find time for your other kids.But Kilcarr
believes parents should regularly evaluate the quantity and quality of time spent with the non-AD/HD child.
Here are some suggestions for making every moment count:
GIVE THE GIFT OF TIME.Set aside an hour or two after work or on the weekend to bond with your child, by taking a walk, going to an amusement park, or having dinner out.Attending her
dance recital or soccer game, although important, doesn't qualify as bonding.Kilcarr
, who's the father of two children with AD/HD, promises that spending time together is a powerful stress reliever for the parent and a benefit for the child.
does, however, caution against setting up an "us versus them" dynamic.It's fine for your child to express negative feelings about her
brother or sister, but it shouldn't turn into a gripe session, with the AD/HD child as the target.
"A child who's out of control shouldn't be tolerated," says Kilcarr
.With the success of medications in treating AD/HD, as well as behavior therapy, there's no reason that a child with this condition can't be held accountable."It's important that the sibling feel like he
is in a safe, protected environment," adds Kilcarr
TRY THIS: In his
own household, Kilcarr
has instituted a "no hands, no feet" rule, which stipulates that you're not allowed to touch your siblings unless they request, say, a hug.Once in place, there must be consistent (the magic word for kids with AD/HD) consequences if the rule is broken, such as immediate time-outs.
TEACH YOUR CHILD
TO BE ASSERTIVE.Training a child to stand up for herself doesn't replace the parent's duty to protect her
, but it empowers the child in difficult situations.Kilcarr
creates cues in the home: The family discusses actions that aren't acceptable and comes up with a sign-holding up an index finger, for example-to signal that a bad behavior is about to, or has already begun to, happen.If your AD/HD child is starting to break a rule, his
sibling can raise her
index finger to let him know that he's
about to get into trouble.She's
taking control of the situation, and also helping her
sibling avoid a time-out.
TRY THIS: Explain to siblings what's realistic to expect from a brother or sister-and have the AD/HD child follow the rules and take on chores and other responsibilities to the best of his
ability.Rules should be consistent for all the kids in a household.
Remember, too, that sometimes the most unexpected (and unapparent) things can lie at the heart of your other child's anxiety.She
may be embarrassed to invite her
friends over for fear that her
AD/HD sibling will act up.She
might even worry about you.Kilcarr
recalls a session with a father and a daughter in which he
asked the girl to talk about what caused her
the most tension at home.To the family's surprise, it wasn't her
AD/HD sibling, but rather the fact that her
dad had started drinking because of all the stress at home.
The moral of the story?