At a Glance: 4 Common Complaints of Siblings of Kids With Learning and Attention Issues

By Kate Kelly

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It’s not uncommon for brothers and sisters of kids with learning and attention issues to complain about their sibling. Your response can help your child feel understood and empowered.

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Common Sibling Complaints and How to Respond

Brothers and sisters of kids with learning and attention issues may sometimes think life is unfair and that they don’t get enough attention. Here are four common gripes, and what you can say.

Complaint 1: “I don’t want him at my game.”
Situation: Your son with learning and attention issues loves his sister’s soccer games. But he’s loud and cheers at the wrong time.
Try not to say: “What’s the big deal?”
Helpful response: “I know it’s embarrassing for you when your brother comes. But he really looks forward to watching you play. Let’s think of ways we can help him so that he isn’t disruptive. What if I were to help him cheer at the right time?”

Complaint 2: “You pay for a tutor for him, so why not drum lessons for me?”
Situation: The tutor is a financial stretch, but your son is failing a class.
Try not to say: “How would you like to spend a day in your brother’s shoes? Then you’d understand.”
Helpful response: “Education is our priority, so we spend money on that first. Let’s brainstorm about how you can learn to play the drums.”

Complaint 3: “You always take his side!”
Situation: Your daughter shoves her brother for taking her stickers.
Try not to say: “I expect you to compromise because things are easier for you.”
Helpful response: “Wow, I can see it really made you mad. But remember we don’t hit or push in this family. I expect you to follow that rule. Let’s find a place for your things where your brother can’t get them.”

Complaint 4: “You’re too easy on him.”
Situation: You give your son fewer chores than your daughter.
Try not to say: “Not everything in life is fair.”
Helpful response: “It takes your brother the same amount of time to finish his chores as it takes you. As his skills improve, he’ll do more.”
Graphic of Common Sibling Complaints and How to Respond
Graphic of Common Sibling Complaints and How to Respond

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About the Author

Portrait of Kate Kelly

Kate Kelly has been writing and editing for more than 20 years, with a focus on parenting.

Reviewed by

Portrait of Molly Algermissen

Molly Algermissen, Ph.D., is an associate professor of medical psychology at Columbia University Medical Center and clinical director of PROMISE.

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