Maybe big brother thinks he squeezed the baby a little too tightly.
Perhaps big sister remembers wishing her noisy little newborn brother would go away.Now the baby is having trouble and mom and dad are always sad. Is it the sibling's fault? Of course not, but in a child's mind, it just might make perfect sense.
That's why it's critical to include siblings in the family intervention program when a child is getting help. Kids on the Move is a sibling program that focuses on the needs of those who live with the child in need. Chris Jones, a recent recipient of a Child Advocate Award from the Utah County Child Abuse Council, heads the program.
Jones has worked "tirelessly," say co-workers, to develop the sibling program, which is evolving into a sibling center under the direction of Karen Hahne, Kids on the Move director.
Sometimes when one child in the family experiences some delay in learning or a disability, a sibling can feel responsible or jealous of the extra attention he or she is commanding.
Siblings may even expect to "catch" whatever is wrong with their brother or sister. Yet they're told they won't understand or asked to not talk about it - essentially excluding them from any discussion of the situation. They're often asked to spend time in waiting rooms, ignored and isolated.
The Kids on the Move program includes the siblings and even has created a separate play group for them. Participants attend when their family member goes in for treatment.
They work with teacher Gina Painter, learn about everything from creating tissue flowers for a Mother's Day card to being an advocate for the brother or sister in therapy.
"Each month the play group has a focus," Jones said. "Sometimes it's behavior issues, other times it's about family dynamics."
In the sibling play group, ideas can be expressed and issues discussed safely. Siblings are encouraged to feel they make a positive difference.
Meanwhile, the parents can focus on learning what they need to provide on a daily basis for the child who needs special help.
Everyone gets the chance to bond with someone who's sharing a similar situation.
"The whole thing is helping families cope," Jones said. "This is just another way of creating a team feeling."
Donald J. Meyer, director of the Sibling Support Project at Children's Hospital and Medical Center in Seattle, says inviting - but not requiring - siblings in can bene-fit all parties.
"When included, siblings can obtain helpful, reassuring information about a sibling's condition and can contribute by providing information and unique, informed (and frequently unsentimental) perspectives on issues such as barriers to inclusion with neighborhood age peers or a sibling's ability to accomplish household and self-care responsibilities," Meyer said.
"When invited to meet with service providers, siblings are brought `into the loop.' A message is sent to family members and service providers alike that brothers and sisters are valued members of the child's team."
Approximately 65 children are involved in the sibling program, offered as part of the services provided at the Orem Intervention Center. Jones said it is one of the few such programs in the state and a showpiece for a treatment industry that's starting to recognize the value in center-based caregiving.
She said the sibling program is evolving as caregivers and parents start to see the positive effects that come from consciously including siblings in a treatment plan.
"I am kind of embarrassed (by the award)" Jones said. "But I think it's wonderful that we're recognizing the work people are doing. If we treat the award as representational of everybody involved, then it's great."
Others who were given Child Advocate Awards include Jackie Lowe, who helps provide respite care at the Family Support and Treatment Center; Lisa Miller, who helped organize the court-appointed special advocate volunteer program in Fourth District Court; and Clair Nielson, who works with foster parents, caseworkers and parents at the Division of Child and Family Services.