80-90% of us grow up with a sibling. Research in the last few decades has demonstrated the importance of sibling relationships for children’s development and social skills. It is through sibling relationships that children first start to develop social skills. They provide opportunities for children to practice and hone play, communication, and emotion regulation skills.
Moreover, research has established a link between sibling relationships and psychological adjustment. Being a sibling of a child with a developmental disability can affect children and the sibling relationship both negatively and positively. When children are unable to communicate effectively, have behavioral concerns, or are aggressive towards siblings, it is difficult to build and maintain a positive sibling relationship. When siblings are unable to play cooperatively, talk to each other, or have positive interactions they often have higher levels of conflict in their relationships. This conflict can lead the siblings, especially the typically developing sibling, feeling sad, frustrated, or mad.
It is important for parents to be aware of how their children are interacting so they can intervene early to improve sibling relationships quality. Organized/supervised play time, family outings or sibling dates, educating children about their sibling’s disability, and psychotherapy can all be helpful interventions.
In addition, resources such as Sibshops provide children wtih the opportunity and support to connect with other children in similar situations.
Call us for details: In Sioux Falls, 605-444-9700. In Rapid City, 605-791-7400.
Learn more about LifeScape’s therapy services.
Emma Ranum, MA (Clinical Psychology Graduate Student) and
Aimee Deliramich, PhD (Licensed Clinical Psychologist)