Balancing Attention Between Children When One Is Disabled

A little while ago, I asked a favour of you readers to ask me your questions so I can give you content that you want to read (keep those questions coming guys, it’s an open ended invitation) and this was one of the questions asked that I am choosing to answer today:

“Because I have a brother in law who is developmentally disabled, I read some of the posts about your daughter, Celine, with interest. It is a huge balancing act to have a child who needs a lot of attention for whatever reason (health, physical or mental challenge), and not have the siblings feel slighted or ignored. I would enjoy reading how you handle that topic.”

It can be hard to balance the attention needed for each individual child when one child has a disability that requires a special level of attention that the others do not. When Celine first needed crutches for her Perthes Disease, she was 6 years old. Danielle was no more than a baby and babies naturally engender attention. It’s a simple biological response. Blake on the other hand was a toddler and while he still demanded a lot of attention, he probably did not get as much of it or an equal share of it that Celine and Danielle did.

It was especially hard for Blake at the time because he understood the concept of presents at that age and Celine started receiving all sorts of special items both from myself (her slings, temporary tattoos for her foot, toe rings etc) as well as from random strangers around the world who had been following her journey through my blog and family life vlogs. It caused quite a bit of jealousy in Blake which was never more prevalent than in my most viewed family life vlog: New Crutches (view below).

It probably also didn’t help that those same viewers only wanted to see footage of Celine on her crutches. Which meant that a lot of my family life vlogs at the time didn’t have the balance and focus on the whole family like I was originally aiming for when I started doing them and like I try to do now. Which is another avenue of attention that both Blake and Danielle suffered inequally from. (The irony being that once Celine stopped needing her crutches the attention from viewers and readers pretty much dropped.)

Looking back, I can see many things I could have done differently and should have done differently but hindsight is always 20/20. But it’s a lot harder to do when you are actually living in the moment however. So, here are some of the things I wish I had done at the time, in order to give my other children more equal attention than they likely received at the time.

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Celine, Blake and Danielle playing outside near the end of Celine’s crutch side of her Perthes Disease journey.

More one on one!

Looking back I feel I could have made more time for one on one interaction with my other children. Especially during the days when Celine was at school. I could have made much more of that time that Danielle would be napping to do something special with Blake. For me, this is probably the biggest change I could have made for my children at the time.

Keeping a stash of token presents

It generally wasn’t so bad when it was just stuff that I was giving Celine because, I would generally always try to give something for the others too. But when the other stuff came that others were sending it gave Celine a sense of specialness that Blake and Danielle weren’t getting. If I’d had any forethought, I would have kept a small stash of token gifts to give the other two every time Celine received something in the post.

Keep my original focus

I made a huge mistake in trying to please my viewers by including more footage of Celine in my family life vlogs than I did of the rest of my family. I feel like I could have given my children much more equal attention if I had been recording them all equally instead of always having the camera focused so much on Celine. At the time however, I was new to family life vlogging and didn’t know better. My viewers were demanding more footage of Celine and I stupidly gave in. I could have captured so much more of their funny little actions and had so much more of them to look back on.

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About AMummysLife NZ

Mother of 4 children. Blogger about family life, recipes, product reviews and motherhood in general.
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8 Responses to Balancing Attention Between Children When One Is Disabled

  1. I’m wary of posting *anything* about living children (fodder for the pedophile monster) but these are good thoughts.

  2. Alice Gerard says:

    The crutches were beautiful and Celine’s joy was definitely a delight to see. The younger kids were delightful, too. It was really sweet to see how Blake was trying to take care of Danielle and the way he kept saying, “Baby!” I really enjoyed watching that video.

  3. Sarah says:

    Good tips. I work on a child care setting and generally each class has AT LEAST one child with a disability (usually ADHD or autism). My last classroom where I was the director had a child with autism as well as some physical disabilities. We found that either myself or the assistant was pretty frequently focused mostly on him. It’s difficult to try to balance everybody and, though the other kids (school age) understand that the disabled kids need different things, it’s still pretty hard for them to not feel slighted.

  4. Alana says:

    Thank you for responding to my question. I’ve shared this on social media. I find it intriguing that you had readers that only wanted to see the crutches, and left your blog when they were no longer needed. It leaves me rather speechless.

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