Family Matters - Getting Along with Your Brothers and Sisters

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Brothers and sisters can be your best friends, and they can also drive you crazy. Even though they can be a pain sometimes, your brothers and sisters love you and care about you. Your illness or disability will probably affect them. They may feel afraid, frustrated, guilty, or angry. That is okay, all of these feelings are natural. The best way to help your brothers and sisters is to talk about these feelings. It may feel funny at first, especially if you are not that close to your brothers and sisters. But, talking about your condition may even help you grow closer and understand one another better.

When you're talking to your brothers and sisters, keep the following tips in mind:

Tip 1: Consider their feelings. When you let your sisters and brothers know that you are trying to see their side of things, they will be more accepting of how your condition affects them all.

How NOT to address a problem: "You know, I'm really sick of your pouting. You're so selfish! My doctor appointments are more important than some stupid dance recital."

Try this instead: "I understand that you're upset that Mom and Dad couldn't go to your recital. You must have been really disappointed. I know they would have gone if they could. We all would have. Unfortunately, this was the only time I could get in to see the doctor. I hope we'll be able to plan things a little better in the future so this won't happen again."

Tip 2: Be honest about your condition. One of the best things that you can do for your sisters and brothers is to tell them as much as you can about your illness or disability. Many times kids in their situation feel left out. They may also feel like they haven't been told the whole story.
Talking to them can make a big difference. It will make your brothers and sisters feel like they are part of the team helping you. And it will help get rid of any fears they may have.

Tip 3: Ask them to visit you in the hospital or go with you to your doctor appointments. Your doctor may be able to explain your illness in a way that younger brothers and sisters can understand. If they can see what happens at your doctor visits, they might understand your condition a little better. An added bonus is that your sisters and brothers can support you while you're at the doctor's office or hospital.

For more information

Ever wonder what your brothers and sisters could possibly be thinking? You may get some ideas from checking out the Band-Aides & Blackboards' Web site section by brothers and sisters of kids with illnesses or disabilities.

You might want to tell your brothers and sisters about the Sibling Support Project, a Web site for siblings of kids with disabilities.
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