• Mo Langley

It's Embarrassing

Dealing with Embarrassing Sibling Behavior



Children growing up with a sibling who has a special need or disability may experience moments of embarrassment that are both natural and not necessarily related to the sibling’s disability. But for those moments when emotions are tied to disability, here is some advice!


A little perspective


All typically developing siblings experience moments of embarrassment when it comes to their brothers and sisters with special needs or disabilities. But, oftentimes this has nothing to do with the fact that their sibling has a special need. It is important for parents to remember that embarrassment is an ingredient in all sibling relationships.


But, occasionally, the source of the embarrassment has everything to do with their disability or special need. In these circumstances, parents and siblings need to realize that this is OK and that they are not alone. A research study found that 9 percent of 9- to 11-year-olds and 7 percent of older siblings admitted to feeling embarrassed, in general, by their brother or sister with special needs or disabilities. Usually, these feelings of embarassment are temporary and will appear more humorous when looked back in hindsight with more mature eyes.


Advice from adult siblings to younger siblings


  1. When inviting friends over to your home, try to associate with people who have a sense of humor. Be sure they are understanding enough to appreciate your sibling in their comfort zone and that they understand your sibling’s disability or special need.

  2. When going into public places, like restaurants, expect that there may be a scene. This is where parents can help:

  3. Bring activities to help keep the kids occupied

  4. Alert servers to be extra attentive.

  5. Help your other siblings learn to look for ways to entertain their restless brother or sister.

  6. Good manners in the home can translate to situations outside the home.

  7. Be patient and realize that the behavior is probably a passing phase, try to keep teaching and explaining good behavior without losing faith.

  8. Get to know your neighbors and make sure to introduce them to your sibling. Reach out to others in your community so they can help you when you need it!


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