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Parenting a child with special needs, disabilities, or a chronic illness can be very challenging. But what about the rest of the kids? Siblings of special needs children need your passionate parenting just as much!


  • Help your other children to understand that although it is OK to get angry,  jealous, and even upset with their disabled or ill sibling,  it is what they do with those feelings that is important to the well being of the family.

  • Encourage your other children to express those feelings, even if you don't like what you're hearing. Children of disabled and ill siblings need to know that you, as their parent, understand why they may feel that way.

  • Help your child to express how they feel about the disability or illness. It will help you as the parent to gain a better understanding of how much your other children know and  feel about the challenges of the family.

  • Give your other children ways to express what they're feeling about their disabled or ill sibling such as writing in a journal, drawing pictures, or even writing stories about what they're feeling. The more ways they have to express their unique situation, the less frustrated they will be with it. Reading books together about the particular disability or illness that your family is dealing with is another great way to encourage emotional expression.  


  • Encourage your other children to find ways to interact with their disabled or ill sibling, no matter how minimal the activity may seem.

  • Depending on the individual needs of your disabled or ill child, going to the mall or even the park may not be an option. Instead, find ways to involve all of your children together by watching a favorite show or movie, listening to music, and even allowing them, if age appropriate, to participate in therapy with your disabled child.

  • The important thing is to find ways to help connect your well children with your special needs child. This will help lessen a great deal of isolation that your children may be feeling as a result of the much needed attention that a special needs child requires.

  • Helping your children to find ways of having fun together,  no matter how seemingly minimal the activity, will help them feel that their place in the family is equal to that of their special needs sibling. It will further help your special needs child not to feel isolated from his or her siblings by being different or not as physically or mentally capable.


Having a disabled or chronically ill child is difficult enough for parents to handle, but trying to raise other children as well offers its own challenges. As much as you love all of your children the same, the demands of caring for special needs often take the lead in your time and your energy, leaving very little left to give to your other children.

It is important to remember that your well children have needs too and that they desire you to care for them with the same level of attention that their special needs sibling receives. Not only is this juggling act challenging, but it also can be very stressful on the entire family. It helps to find a supportive environment, through your church, your neighborhood, or even a support group specific to your child's disease or disability.

Your family may be more challenging than most, but it is important for all of your children to feel a part of the family. Letting your children know that you value their feelings and opinions about what your family is experiencing will help ease isolation that they may be feeling and will help ease the stress that you may be feeling, and that is beneficial for the entire family.

©2017 Jonah & The Whale Foundation, Inc., Mars, PA, USA