There is no greater relationship than the one between siblings. Families with children who are deaf and hard of hearing often wonder how to foster the bond between their children. Here are some tips for how to promote a positive sibling relationship from our guest speaker, Colleen Caverly, a psychology post-doctoral student at The River School.
Re-frame your perspective: Your attitude is everything. Research indicates that children mirror their parents’ attitudes. Encourage respect between your children, and put a positive spin on anything you do together. Even when the task is hard, or not very fun (e.g. going to an appointment), be positive!
Encourage healthy communication: Teach respect, listening, negotiation and compromise. Encourage siblings to work out disagreements.
Talk about hearing loss: Expose hearing siblings to other children and siblings with hearing loss. Consider checking out family camps and community events with other deaf individuals and seek out some same-age peers with hearing loss.
Dedicate special time: Set aside special time for each of your children to spend one-on-one with you.
Do things as a family: Arrange for fun family-centered activities that encourage cooperation. Get extended family members involved too!
Be a team: Encourage your children (and your whole family) to be a team. Everyone has a role and when somebody needs support the whole family can rally behind them. Perhaps use your last name… “We’re Team [Last Name] and we stick together.”
Give them a job: Sometimes older siblings benefit from having a special job to make them feel important and part of the team. Depending on their age and interest level, some ideas include:
- Involve them in your morning listening check
- Come up with a language game that is “their special game” they can play with their sibling.
Don’t worry: Most of all…remember that for your children without hearing loss, having a sibling with hearing loss is normal for them. They don’t know any different! 🙂