How to Help Siblings Understand and Support A Brother Or Sister With Incontinence

We share our tips on how to talk about incontinence with the siblings of a child who experiences the condition to encourage understanding and support.

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Having a child with incontinence can, at times, be stressful for parents - especially if you have other children.

Speaking to your other children about their sibling's incontinence can be important for many reasons, including reducing the stigma around the condition, promoting understanding and support, preventing bullying or teasing and encouraging family unity.

Continue reading below for tips on how to provide guidance and support to your other children on how to understand and support their brother or sister with incontinence.

Educate your kids

The first step in helping your child’s siblings understand the condition is to simply just start talking about it. 

Explaining what it is, why it happens and how to help their brother or sister is essential in fostering support and understanding of their siblings' condition. This can be especially helpful if they have a neurological or physical condition that contributes to their incontinence, too.

Depending on their age, you might find it helpful to look up resources or fact sheets on incontinence that are made specifically to help children understand the condition.

Encourage open communication

Communication is crucial to healthy family relationships. An environment where all family members feel comfortable asking questions and talking about their feelings or thoughts without judgement is conducive not only to helping the child with incontinence but also their siblings.

When talking to your child regarding their brother or sister’s incontinence, encourage them to ask any questions they may have. This can help correct any misconceptions they might have about incontinence, too!

Similarly, encourage them to discuss any feelings they have about it with you and their other caregiver/s. This is especially important if their brother or sister has a disability that affects their continence, as studies have found that siblings of children with disabilities experience higher rates of emotional distress, depressive symptoms and social isolation - especially in younger siblings aged between 6-9 years [1].

Stopping and preventing bullying

All siblings squabble, and it’s part of learning to resolve conflict while young. However, bullying or chronic teasing between siblings should never be accepted - especially when it’s about a child’s incontinence or health condition.

If you notice any of this happening between your children, it’s important to intervene to stop the bullying. Speak with the child doing the bullying or teasing about their behaviour and encourage empathy by helping them to understand that name-calling, teasing and bullying hurt their sibling's feelings.

You can try using empathy prompts to help your child to understand the feelings of others as well as reflect on their actions, which can include things like:

  • Prompting them to think about the impact of teasing on their sibling's self-esteem. How would they feel if someone made fun of them for having incontinence?

  • Asking the sibling/s how they would feel if they were in their brother or sister's shoes and needed understanding. What kind of support would they hope for?

  • Prompting them to think about how their actions today might affect their relationship with their sibling in the future. What kind of relationship do they want with their brother or sister?

It’s also important to ensure the child doing the bullying apologises to their sibling as a way to teach responsibility and foster healthy communication and emotional growth.

Seek professional support

While having a sibling with incontinence doesn’t necessarily require professional support, it’s important to keep an eye on the child and their wellbeing to ensure they’re coping with any stress, frustration or emotional difficulty that can arise.

If you observe any of the following behaviours happening persistently, it might be beneficial to take your child to their GP to discuss finding additional support for them:

  • Excessive worry or anxiety about their sibling and their condition
  • Withdrawing from or loss of interest in social activities

  • Behavioural changes, including heightened irritability or aggression

  • Expressing feelings of shame or guilt regarding their sibling

  • Avoiding their sibling or refusing to spend time with them

If there is ongoing stress or tension within the family due to incontinence, it could also be beneficial to seek therapy as a family unit to get professional guidance on how to manage and navigate through any strain.

We hope this article helps give some ideas on how to talk to your children about their siblings' incontinence constructively. ConfidenceClub is glad to support your child’s journey through our range of incontinence aids for older children and teenagers.

*This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. For medical advice tailored to your unique situation, please seek guidance from a GP or other licensed health professional.

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