Help with my daughter
09/30/2008 at 10:55 AM

I've been having trouble with my youngest daughter and I don't know what to do about it. I have a 9 year old daughter who is in a wheelchair and has a learning disability. Her and my 6 year old daughter get along really well. My problem is my 6 year old now wants to be like my 9 year old. She wants to set in a special chair at the table like her sister, She wants to go to a special school, She wants to ride in a wheelchair and she wants to wear diapers like her sister does. How do I get her to stop wanting to do this? My daughter's teacher said she had never seen this kind of reaction from the younger sibling. It is the special needs child that wants to be like their sibling. Not the other way around. She suggested I treat my 6 year old like her sister and let her see it isn't as much fun as she thinks it is. I'm not sure I want two in diapers and in wheelchairs. It is alot of work having one of them in diapers and in a wheelchair. Two is going to be even harder for me.

Wow, that's a challenging situation! How wonderful that your six year old loves her sister so much and wants to be like her. I was thinking maybe your six year old can take some responsibility for caring for her sister. If she understands how difficult it can be for her sister and the people who care for her maybe that would help her understand better. Also, I don't think I would have my six year old back in diapers but maybe you can take the teachers advice on a smaller scale and talk with your six year old when she takes certain activities for granite. When she wants to play on the slides and bars tell her if she was in a chair she would not be able to do that. Remind her when she is doing things that her sister is unable to do that she is blessed. Above all, keep loving your girls and be patient. Good luck!!


She does take some of the responsibility for caring for her sister. She moves Molly's chair up to the table. She gets out Molly's plate,cup and silverware and puts it on the table in front of Molly's chair. She gets Molly's diapers and changing supplies out of the closet and then throws the diaper away for me. She helps with getting Molly's dressed in the morning. I think that is what is causing the problem with her wanting to be like Molly. She sees that Molly doesn't have to do anything for herself. Everything is done for her. While Robin has to do things for herself. The two of them do their homework together in the livingroom. After their homework is done. They go outside to play or they play a game inside the house. Molly likes to play memory games and Candy Land. She is getting better at the memory game. I've talked to Robin about all the things she couldn't do if she was in a wheelchair like Molly. She said she doesn't care. She wants to be like Molly since Molly doesn't have to do anything for herself. Everything is done for her. I countered by saying. Do you think Molly likes not being able to do the things you can do? Do you think she likes being in a wheelchair and have to wear diapers? Robin said she didn't know, but she doesn't see what Molly wouldn't like it. It looks like alot of fun to have things done for you.


6 is kind of young, but I wonder if you could get Robin involved in some community groups--not Girl Scouts, which works hard on the diversity issue, but ballet or soccer or community theater or martial arts, where Robin can really shine because SHE can do things. I know you don't want to make Molly feel bad, she has plenty to deal with. But if she could also celebrate her little sister's accomplishments, that would be excellent!


I thought about getting her involved in some other activity like Ballet or Gymnastics,but she doesn't show any interest in it. Martial Arts sounds really dangerous for a 6 year old to do. You are right. I don't want Molly to feel bad because she can't do things like Robin can.


They have really good instructors for younger kids in martial arts. Statistically fewer injuries than gymnastics.


I see. I took Robin to one gymnastic class. She saw what the class was about and said she didn't want to take gymnastics. I'm sure they have some really good instructors for younger kids in martial Arts, but the images that comes to mind is breaking pieces of wood and bricks with their hands and head. I'm also worried that if she takes martial arts. She will use it against someone at school and hurt them or worst get mad at Molly and hurt her.


What about swimming? If you find the right school, I'm sure you can get both of your girls lessons. I think it's good if you can get your girls to do activities together, but then also do their own things as well. My boys are very close in age, and I have a hard time separating them. Mostly it's b/c I don't have anyone to watch one, while I have the other. So when we do activities, it's hard to get them to socialize w/ other kids, when all they want is to play w/ each other. If you can have one-on-one time w/ each of your girls, that wld be good to. This way they each build their own identities, relationships and interests. Best of luck!


Robin doesn't like water. She is afraid of it after she sank in the pool before I could catch her. She was standing on the side of the pool and I told her to jump and I would catch her. I misjudged and she went though my arms. She didn't go down too far just below her forehead. After that She will not go near water. Molly on the other hand loves to play in the water. She likes it because with the lifejacket on. She can float and doesn't have to worry about sinking. When we go swimming. Molly goes into the water and Robin sets on the side of the pool with her feet in the water or she sets on the top step inside the pool. While I was at home today. I got a call from Robin's school. It was her teacher. She called to ask if Robin had developed a wetting problem. When she took the class to the bathroom. She said Robin was wearing a diaper under her skirt and it was wet. Did I want her to put her in another diaper or did I want to bring Robin a pair of underwear from home. I told the teacher to put Robin in another diaper. After I hung up the phone. I went into Molly's room and I found one of her pull up diapers missing from the shelf. When I went to pick Robin up at school. She was wearing a thick diaper like Molly wears and her skirt was sticking out a bit. Robin didn't seem to care. When we got home. We had a really long talk about taking things that doesn't belong to her. It was wrong for her to steal one of Molly's diaper.


Do you have a family therapist already? With Molly's disability being such a big factor in how your family functions, it would be good to talk to a therapist about Robin's issues.


No I don't. I talked to the one at Molly's school about Robin and she told me it sounded like Robin was jealous of the attention that Molly is getting from me and jealous of Molly because as Robin sees it. Molly doesn't have to do anything for herself while she has to do things for herself. She talked to Robin and she told me that Robin said she didn't think it was fair that Molly got things done for her while she didn't get things done for her. She told me that Robin said Molly gets to wear diapers and use them. She had to stop what she was doing to go to the bathroom. Molly never gets tired from walking. She gets to ride in a wheelchair.


Robin is such a little girl, and it sounds like Molly has been the center of attention Robin's whole life. I think it would be a good idea to see a family therapist who can help you learn ways of showing Robin that healthy children like her are valued, too.


Yeah You are right. I'll have a talk with the therapist at Molly's school about who she would suggest I talked to about this. When Robin helps me with Molly. I tell her thank you. She said you are welcome. Molly needs help and she likes helping me take care of Molly's needs. Which caught me by surprise when she told me that she wanted to be like Molly.


I talked to the therapist at Molly's school about who she would suggest I talk to. She told me of a good therapist. I took Robin to see her yesterday. The two of them talked for a few hours and then her assistant took her to the playroom while the therapist and I talked. She told me that she felt that Robin was being a tipical 6 year old. Small children want to be what they see around them. Her suggestion was the same as the one at Molly's school. I should treat Robin like Molly and let her see that being like Molly isn't as much fun as she thinks it is. Robin is seeing Molly and the way she is treated as it is alot of fun and she doesn't have to do anything for herself. I need to show her that being in a wheelchair and being like her older sister isn't what she wants to be.


Sounds to me like the younger one sees the special attention and different things your older daughter gets and wants it. Maybe you should think of some things that are unique for your younger daughter. Siblings are always wanting what the other one has, younger or older. This is common. She is basically crying out for more attention.


I've tried pointing out things that she can do that Molly can't do. Like walking, She can run around and play on the playground. It doesn't make any difference to her. We have alone time where it is just the two of us. We go shopping, we go to the movies when I can find one that is ok for her to watch. That is getting harder to do. We bake things. We play board games. It hasn't changed anything with Robin. She still wants to be like Molly.


She still sees that being in a wheelchair is part of what makes Molly special. What makes Robin special? She can do all the things that healthy children do. That just makes her normal, not special. Help her develop interests and talents that are not Molly focused. Things that are a little challenging for Robin, so that she knows that her own effort is what makes it her own.


I've tried to help her develop some interest. So far it has been a bust. I tried dance class, Robin wasn't interested, I signed her up for gymnastics. She went one time and said it was boring. I tried an art class since she likes to draw. That kept her interest for a week. Then she got bored with that. I thought about Brownies, but I was told she wasn't old enough yet. They have to be 7 to join.


In my council they have to be in First Grade, and they have Daisies for Kindergartners -- BUT I know you can register her as an individual scout. Though I dismissed scouts for her before, I'm beginning to think that would be a good idea. The Daisy activities or the Brownie "Try-its" with one-on-one attention from one of her parents, the "wider opportunities" that she'll be invited to. Do some research so you can be genuinely excited about this, then sign her up because you think it will be fun for YOU to be the mom of an Individual Girl Scout. The advantage is--she can't get bored. Every activity is a new adventure. There may be some she won't like--so you don't do them again.
I love Girl Scouts!


I loved Girl Scouts too. I never got any merit badges, but I had fun. My favorite parts was the camp and the cookie sales. My mom signed me up for Girl Scouts to help me make friends and get over my shyness. That is one thing I don't have to worry about with Robin. She isn't shy. She is really outgoing. Which is a good thing, but could be bad. Since she will talk to anyone even people she doesn't know. When I was in Girl Scouts. I don't think there was Daisy. I think the lowest level was Brownie. The only part of the uniform I didn't like was the Beret. I've never liked anything on my head that would mess up my hair.


Your younger daughter needs more of your attention. Something that is more one on one. Try to rely on her less, for caring for the older one.I can only imagine that your time must be extemely limited but. If that does not work you may try what she wants and hope that she finds out that diapers and wheel chairs are not much fun. As a child when my sister was born I started regressive behavior that included bedwetting etc. When more attention was lavished upon me I soon found out that being a big brother was much better than being back in diapers.


I think Robin is asking for attention - look at me, I'm here too!! - more than she wants to be like Molly. Pointing out how she is unique is important but just as important is finding time on a regular basis that is focused on Robin. Right now everything revolves around Molly and eventually Robin will resent that if her emotional needs are not met. Robin also needs to see you model that you have your identity, Molly has her's so that Robin can eventually say, this is who I am.

Are you able to get time away from Molly so Robin can have your undivided attention? Are you able to get time away from both girls to do special things for yourself - make a point of saying its time out for mom - I really love to do......for myself, or time out for Robin, time out for Molly. Special times for everyone. :)

Maybe tell Robin and Molly you will start having special time with each of them on a more regular basis and ask what they would be interested in doing with you when its their turn. Telling them in advance gives them time to dream and discuss and anticipate with excitement. The movies, shopping for a new outfit, bowling, going to the library. While both of the girls could do these things at the same time its important to remember Robin is needing individual attention. Maybe that would help Robin focus her attention elsewhere? Her helping Molly is great but maybe too involved? Just a thought


We have one on one time. While we are together and away from my oldest daughter. She does ok. When we get back home. She goes back to her wanting to be like her older sister. I talked to my oldest daughter's teacher and she get me borrow a wheelchair and some diapers for my youngest to wear. During the christmas break. I tried her like her sister. She wore diapers, wore in a wheelchair and went to class with my older sister. She loved it. She said that class was easier than her regular school class. When school started back Monday. She had to go back to her regular class. She didn't get to ride in the wheelchair anymore,but she still wore diapers. It doesn't bother her that her classmate might find out she is in diapers or that she has to go the special education class to get changed. Her teacher said she doesn't really like the distraction that it causes letting my daughter leave class. The teacher wants me to stop letting her wear diapers in class,but since I started letting my daughter wear diapers and spend two weeks in the special ed class. She seems alot happier.


I would strongly suggest that you stop having Robin help you take care of Molly. If this caretaker role she has continues, then when she becomes a teen, she will probably want nothing to do with Molly at all. They need to become more like sisters and not mother/daughter. I cannot believe that a therapist actually suggested that you let Robin pretend to be like her sister by wearing diapers, going to her school and ride in a wheelchair. Yes, usually a special ed class is easier and Robin doesn't have to work as hard. Yes, sometimes there are more fun things to do in a special ed class, too.But this is not helping Robin at all.

I know it can be overwhelming to take care of a child with special needs because I have two of them. And it is very hard to pay attention to both children when one is so demanding due to special needs.

Robin needs to learn that she is not like her sister and will never be like her sister. By letting her pretend to be like her sister is going to make her regress in her development. Athough it will be rough and her behavior will likely get worse, Robin needs to act her age (no diapers) and go to her regular school. Behaviors get worse before they get better.


My daughter's theraptist is the one who suggested letting Robin help me with Molly. She said if Robin felt left out when I was taking care of Molly. That Robin would start to resent Molly and the divide would get bigger and bigger between them until Robin would not want anything to do with Molly or might start doing things to Molly to get back at her for being different. It wasn't the theraptist who suggested it. It was Molly's teacher. She thought if Robin got a taste of what it was like to be a special needs child like Molly. That Robin wouldn't want it. That is the way it worked out. Robin loved it.


You might want to check out this website:

It has excellent resources...




My name is Ashley and I am working on my degree towards Elementary Education. I am in a class at Southeastern Illinois College called, "Teaching Exceptional Children", and I have to write about if having a sibling with a disability a positive or negative experience and the effect it has on the family. If you could answer these questions that would be great. All names will be anonymous. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!



Check out sibshop in on the internet, also there is a book for children on the market titled: Princess Pooh

Its about a girl who has a sister that gets around in a wheelchair. She thinks that her sister is being treated like a princess, until she gets into the wheelchair.