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What is a Glass Child?

When a teen enters Sundance Canyon Academy, we work with the whole family to improve home life and strengthen relationships. We provide counseling for the student individually, but we also work with parents and siblings to foster growth and progress toward a happier home life. Part of growing as a family includes thinking through sibling relationships and parental relationships with your other children.

We are writing on this topic today to help families think through parental relationships that may need additional focus. You may have already thought through the option of enrolling your teen with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) in a residential treatment center, but here are some additional considerations for your other children at home.

What is a Glass Child?

The phrase Glass Child refers to the siblings of kids with significant physical, mental, or emotional issues. In many situations, when a child requires extra attention, siblings can feel like they don’t matter. It’s not that they’re in trouble. It’s that they’re invisible.

It can be tough to balance your time parenting in a home with more than one child. Life pulls you in a million directions, and you don’t have time for everything that needs to be done in a day. Between work, home, and any level of social life, there just isn’t time for everything. When you’ve got more than one kid, it can be tough to make sure they’re each getting the attention they need from you.

Teens with mental health problems like RAD can cause problems at home extending far beyond their own lives. Their behavior often creates trouble at home and school, and you as the parent are left to deal with it. Teens with RAD need a significant amount of support and patience from their parents.

Unfortunately for many families, this can leave parents drained and lacking the necessary energy to fully support their other children.

How can you help a Glass Child?

The biggest issue for Glass Children is that they end up feeling like they don’t matter. Parents have to spend a lot of time dealing with the chaos caused by their teen with RAD. At school, teachers probably know their siblings and might compare them. Even friends and family might ask more about the teen with RAD and forget to ask about their siblings.

You can help a Glass Child by ensuring they are included and treated as if they also matter. As an extremely busy parent, this is easier said than done. When you have a teen with RAD, you might need to look for moments to make time for your other kids.

What are some ways to spend time with a Glass Child?

You don’t have to make grand gestures for your kids to know that you care about them. Just having your attention and getting to talk to you can make a huge difference.

Examples of small one-on-one moments with your kids:

  1. Give them a ride somewhere. Spending time in a car without any extra distractions is a great time to talk to your kids. They can have your attention without anyone else around, and you can hang out together. It’s a great chance to talk about life or just to sing along to some music together.

  2. Cook together. When you cook with your kids, you get to spend time with each other and create something together. Mealtime might seem trivial, but it’s a good time to engage with a child without screens getting in the way.

  3. Do household chores together. Getting your kids to do chores might be a challenge, but it’s easier and more fun when you do them together. Little things like folding a basket of laundry together don’t take long and give you a chance to interact with each other.

Who can help a Glass Child?

This is the great part about helping a Glass Child. Anyone can help! Yes, your child will want your attention and want to know that you care about them, but it doesn’t all have to be on you as a parent.

If you are worried that your child might be feeling like they’re invisible, enlist other people to help you. Encourage friends and family members to spend time with them and check on them as well.

Some possible actions include things like:

  1. Going to a movie with a favorite aunt or uncle

  2. Going to get ice cream with cousins

  3. Getting a nice note or letter in the mail

  4. Having a family friend or other trusted adult reach out to check on them

  5. Bringing them to youth events where they can connect with other positive teens and adults

For more information about treatment for teens with RAD, contact us today.

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