You want all your kids to feel valued and appreciated. But when you have more than one child, it’s natural to devote more time to the one with learning and attention issues. You may assume that your other children know how much you love them.
Yet siblings of kids with learning and attention issues can easily feel lost in the shuffle. Not getting regular attention from you can affect their self-esteem and personal development. Your child needs consistent time with you. Here’s why focusing your attention on each of your children can set the stage for a positive relationship with all of them and boost their self-esteem.
You know what makes your child unique.
Children have their own interests and needs. By spending time together, you become more aware of your child’s passions and talents. Your child, in turn, feels understood.
You can build a richer relationship.
When you know your child’s interests and potential strengths, you can plan activities that support them. For example, maybe you discover your older child likes vintage movies, or your younger child loves big trucks. By going to movie revivals or construction sites together, you share an experience that’s personal and special.
It keeps the lines of communication open.
Your child can open up when you spend relaxed time together, away from the demands of your house and other siblings. It’s a chance to talk about what it’s like to have a sibling with learning and attention issues. Or to share nervousness about trying out for the school play. When you know what your child is thinking, you can figure out how to respond—with a word of encouragement or by providing an opportunity to vent.
Your actions speak louder than words.
Giving undivided attention to your child sends a very important message. Essentially, you’re saying: “You are important to me. I’m interested in what you have to say, and I enjoy being with you.” That means a lot.
It can make up for those times when a sibling gets the lion’s share of the attention. Individual attention is crucial, but it’s not the only way you can put your child in the spotlight. In day-to-day routines, you can also make your child feel on top, at least sometimes. Here are some ideas:
- Let your child pick the restaurant, or the family activity. It’s easy to let the needs of your child with learning and attention issues dictate the kinds of places you eat out or what movie you go to. For example, you may always eat out at the same place just because you know it and it’s easy. But sometimes, try mixing it up and letting the other child choose.
- Say that each child’s needs are important. If you’re working on homework together, don’t drop what you’re doing because another child needs help. If you can, say, “Honey you’ll have to wait a few minutes. I’m busy.”
- Include a love note in the lunch box, or place a sticky note on the mirror. A tangible reminder of your love can give your child a lift.