Sibling Needs Support: Part II

Virtual Sibshops

Virtual Sibshops

So in our first part to this duo blog, we discussed the challenges that we hear our sibs face, including fear, the need to be perfect, and frustration. However, alongside the unique challenges the sibs face, they also get to experience unique opportunities. This was also an aspect that was discussed in my two day training for the Sibshops program. There’s always a silver lining despite the challenges they face.

1. Empathy

This has to be the number one thing listed here. They often experience such hard times with their own family that when someone else goes through something tough, they feel it for them. When our Sibshop kids share their experiences of something tough they went through, or a sad moment that they wanted to talk about, the others so intently listen and share in the feelings with them.

During one of our workshops, we played a game with a chart of feelings. They had to roll the ball to a chart and whichever feeling it landed on, they could share a story of that emotion. When it was this young girl’s turn, she rolled the ball and it landed on ‘Sadness’. She paused, curled her legs up into her chest and rested her chin on her knees as she she started to share. She asked if it was okay that she doesn’t describe just one example of this but just something that makes her sad in general. After getting the okay, she started to open up and describe her sadness.

She felt sad that she didn’t get that much one on one time with her parents. She felt sad that her sister wasn’t able to control herself and would often hit her parents when they were trying to help her. She felt sad because she saw how frustrated her mom was when her sister was having a bad day and she still tried to smile. She described each of these moments to the group and everyone sat in complete stillness and silence to listen. I will never forget how she told her story and at the very end of all of that said, “I feel sad for my parents because I know they are doing their best. I know they have so much to do and it must be so hard for them.”

They see your struggles and understand. They feel it with you and know you are still doing your best.

2. Resilience

These children are faced with so much added burden and encounter situations that a typical child their age doesn’t have to, but they always pull through it. They pull through all of the obstacles placed in front of them and always gain insight and learn from their experiences.

They’ve seen you struggle, go through stress, be scared, and face obstacles nearly every single day of their lives…and they’ve seen you pull through with resilience. They’ve been able to learn from their hardships because they’ve seen their parents do it.

They learned it from seeing you, their parents, be resilient.

3. Gratitude

While it’s easy for them to sit there and be angry, frustrated, or annoyed at their situations, I often find that when we practice gratitude as a group during our Sibshop program, they always have gratitude for the simplest and purest of things. Sure, sometimes it’s about the video games or a birthday present they got, but often it’s the bigger and greater things in life; Like health, time with family, and time with their sib.

During one of our workshops, we asked them to share their favorite memory. They had to think of a memory that made them so happy. You can probably guess, nearly all of them stated a memory that involved their sibling. It wasn’t a materialistic type of memory of getting a gift or something they received.

One of our young girls told us how she can’t describe it very well but one day, her twin brother was laughing uncontrollably. She described how he likes to quote movies and shows and how sometimes she gets annoyed by it but he just happened to quote something really funny one day and he laughed. She giggled as she told the story too. At the end of it, she said “I know it just seems like something that’s not very special but I don’t know why, it’s just my favorite memory. Seeing him smile and be happy makes me happy.”

If we all acted with an ounce of the understanding and patience they demonstrate on a daily basis, the world would be a much different place. These children’s ability to be vulnerable amazes me. The way they open up in the safe space they’ve been allowed to do so in with others who “get it” is priceless. Their ability to share emotions, make connections with one another, and speak with poise and understanding even if they feel they’ve been mistreated, is invaluable.

And THIS is why a program like Sibshops is an invaluable resource for this community. If you think this could benefit your family member or know someone that is a good fit for this program and wants to trial our program, make sure to reach out via email at info@breakthroughptli.com or give us a call at 631-348-0959!

Christine Astarita
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