Parents are often aware of the ways to support their child with bipolar, but what about the other kids that live in the household? New York City psychotherapist, Jeanne Safer, Ph.D., makes these seven recommendations:
#1 Be honest about the disorder
Explain clearly and repeatedly about bipolar to the siblings of your child or children with the disorder. Avoid saying, “Your brother/sister is special,” because your child will think he or she is not special.
#2 Encourage an expression of ALL feelings
Allow your child who doesn’t have bipolar to talk about positive or negative feelings about his or her sibling, even if this upsets you. He or she is entitled to feel anything—don’t require them to always “understand.”
#3 Don’t expect children to feel the same as you
Don’t expect the child who doesn’t have bipolar disorder to share your feelings or degree of involvement with their bipolar sibling—being a sibling is different than being a parent.
#4 Don’t assume any child needs you less
Set aside time exclusively for the one without bipolar disorder, and let him or her be the center of attention regularly. Give them permission to not always include the sibling with bipolar disorder—let them have their own friends, own activities, and own moments to shine.
#5 Praise the sibling’s achievements
Automatically including or compensating the sibling who has bipolar disorder makes their siblings feel that what they do isn’t important in its own right.
#6 Practice self-awareness
Encourage self-awareness in all your children. This is one of the greatest gifts a parent can bestow, and gives them a model that will last a lifetime.
# 7 Think about your own childhood with siblings
Think about the impact of your relationships with your own siblings and how your parents dealt with them and with you. Doing so will help you understand the emotions of your child who does not have bipolar. And you don’t have to do this alone—counseling can help both you and your children.
via bpHope – bp Magazine Community