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Sibling Challenges with Complex Kids: How to Handle Complaints Like “It’s Not Fair”

Welcome to Tea & Tips, where we respond to burning questions from parents and educators — taking aim on one topic at a time, guiding you to improve communication, confidence and calm.

Diane:
Sibling challenges. I've got two, and you've got more than two, and this happens all the time. If you've got two kids that are at completely different levels -- and maybe the older kid has executive functioning issues, the younger kid doesn't, or vice versa-- and your expectations are going to be different for different ones. And you're going to have different rules for one of them than the other, and one of them goes: "It's not fair."

Elaine:
Or, "You're babying her." You're not, you're not parenting enough. Right. There's lots of judgment from one of the kids about how you're handling the other kid. If that kid needs more support or more accommodations.

Diane:
And I like what you used to say about what fair really means.

Elaine:
Well, so I used to tell my kids -- so I have three, right? -- that fair does not mean the same. And when they would say it's not fair, because I heard that a lot, my response was: "I know it doesn't seem fair" (because I wanted to acknowledge their experience. Acknowledgement and then Compassion.) "I get that that doesn't feel good. And I want you to trust me. I promise you that I will make sure that each of you gets what you need, from me and from each other, but you're not going to need the same thing. So you're not going to get the same thing. I'm going to make sure you get what you need and she gets what she needs and it's not always going to be the same. And that's what's gonna make it fair."

Diane:
Well, and I think part of it is coming up with a simple explanation. If you've one kid who's really good at sports, and you've got one kid that's really good at art, you're not gonna make your sporto do art, and you're not gonna make your art kid do sports. You're going to say, well this is what you need, this is what you like. And it's kind of the same parallel. And I think kids get it a little bit more and it feels differently. Fair.

Elaine:
And so if you, if you play to the strengths and help them see that, I think that's another way for them to accept it differently. Or like, okay, I'm good at this, but I'm not good at that. And what about, (you know, all of our kids are great at everything.) Having said that, to really help them see how they do certain things because they're better at it and not others, helps them understand that everybody else has some things they're better at or not than others as well.

Diane:
And the other thing which we talk about in another video is, is making sure everybody understands what's going on with when each kid.

 

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