(This represents a commonly asked question about this topic)
Dear Dr. Shapiro
One of our children is suffering from the after-effects of trauma and we were strongly advised by his therapist and our Rav to relax our house rules regarding Internet use for him.
We are certainly OK with that, but we are wondering how to explain to his older and younger siblings why he gets to have a smartphone and basically unrestricted Internet use while they are all required to follow our (reasonable) Internet guidelines. We haven’t broached this subject with our kids, but we assume they will be quite resentful.
Any guidance you can share with us would be helpful.
Thank you for the question and I am sorry for the trauma that your child experienced. I assume that the relaxed house rules around the Internet is not the only recommendation that was made by your son’s therapist and Rav and as such your other children might notice a variety of differences in how you treat this child. In most cases it is not the specific difference that children object to, but the sense that one child is being treated better than the others and has a greater degree of the parental attention. One strategy would be to make sure that each child in the house has their own time with one or both of the parents doing something that interests them, so that each child feels special in their own way. Additionally, if age appropriate you can include your other children in the process by conveying to them that sometimes we all need s little extra space and consideration and right now your son needs that. Finally, please confirm that the relaxed house rules regarding Internet use meant “unrestricted”. Even and maybe especially when dealing with trauma reasonable Internet guidelines should always be in place.