Why get siblings involved in therapy?
Siblings can often feel left out or jealous when one child is off going to appointments and has “special activities” they complete at home with their parents.
Allowing siblings to join in with home practice and therapy, where appropriate, can help your children feel included and valued. Siblings can make the best practice partners for a child with speech and language difficulties.
They can be an extra player in a game or a great model for language or social skills.
A sibling can share in their brother or sister’s speech and language goals. For example, they can show them the flashcards for their speech sounds, give them a model to follow for language or simply help by playing in their reward games.
They can also help to model turn-taking and many other social skills.
How to get a sibling involved in therapy
- Make sure your child’s siblings don’t “take over” the session. Have some alternative activities for them. Explain Turn-taking to each child. Make it fun. You could have a talking stick and when a child has the stick it is their turn to talk.
- Make sure they are not too distracting. Assign roles. Give each child a specific role in the game or practice.
- Create an environment of encouragement and support. Make sure your kids use kind words. Help their sibling by giving them phrase they can say to encourage them. For example, “I really like your /s/ sound”.
- Make sure you don’t include siblings if your child is having a “bad” day.
Fun ways to involve a sibling
- Play “Simon Says”
- Singsong together and take turns having each child do the actions.
- Read books together and ask each child questions (depending on each child’s level).
- Play turn-taking games.
- Do a scavenger hunt. Have siblings take turns giving each other clues where items are hidden.
- Create a fun recipe or craft together, while practising their speech and language targets and practising target speech sounds between each step.
Siblings can learn to become helpers to make therapy a more enjoyable experience for the whole family. Well, thought through activities can let both siblings feel appreciated and special.
Parents can create an atmosphere where everyone feels included and speech practice is a positive family activity for all.