Learning about emotions with a disabled sibling

It’s a difficult time when your child starts to learn about their own emotions, for everyone involved, exhausting for parents to keep calm and help guide their child and so confusing for the child.

Happy, sad, angry, excited, we start giving names to our child’s strong emotions so they can understand what these feelings are but something we’ve been missing is sorrow. I don’t want my child needing to know the word for that feeling but after a particularly difficult and shouty time getting Chops ready for pre-school where I lost track of how many times he hit me, we had to get to the bottom of things.

It goes through phases as all kids go through but we wanted to know what had triggered it this time and it felt like the behaviour followed a trip to Brainwave for W’s therapy or longer hospital trips, but we are so careful to make it a fun trip for him that we thought it couldn’t be.

Anyway, I sat down with him once he’d calmed down to try and get to the bottom of things. We talked about how hitting isn’t acceptable behaviour, how there’s too much hitting in the World as it is, people hurting other people, how it makes the person being hit very sad and unhappy, talked about how he would feel if he was hit by someone he loved, all the things you talk about to a child who’s been hitting. Then I asked if he knew why he was feeling so angry but we didn’t get very far, I didn’t expect him to have those words. We moved on with a giggle over something.

Then about 5 minutes later, we’re sitting having breakfast and talking about how you get energy through your belly button when you’re inside Mummy’s tummy, you know as you do, we looked at all our belly buttons and talked about how we all got energy and oxygen from our Mummy’s when we were inside their tummy, then we looked at Willow’s real belly button, saying her real one not her plastic one and he said, “I don’t want Willow to be disabled”. He had tears in his eyes, we all agreed that we didn’t want her to be disabled either, we talked about how good it would be if she was running around and playing with him, doing jigsaws with him and how it upsets us sometimes that she can’t do these things.

Suddenly things became clear. The week before last W’s blue badge came through so I’ve been talking a lot about W being disabled, most days in act as we park in a disabled bay, them being yellow or not is intriguing to him. He’s such an empathetic little boy, he’s beautiful, this path is tough.

Time to seek out or write a story book to help with this I feel. My goodness, the emotions that come with having a disabled child are hard enough for an adult to take on board, for a little boy who’s only just learning about basic every day emotions it must be so confusing.

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