Sibling group leaders

Whether you are setting up a sibling group for the first time or have been running groups for many years, this section will give you guidelines and activities to help you run your group

Dirty washing

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This activity works well when spread over two consecutive weeks of the groups. Or at least ensure that there is a break between part one and two and the chance for a fun game and snack. It is a useful activity to undertake if the group has a number of siblings with brothers/sisters with behavioural difficulties.

Part 1


To encourage siblings to discuss some of the most difficult times in their lives.

You will need

Paper washing shapes, pens, washing line, pegs, basket/ box

How to do it

Give a couple of examples of difficult times that other siblings have mentioned as being difficult e.g. 10 year old brother cries in the supermarket until he gets the toy he wants, 7 year old sister runs around in front of the TV when I'm trying to watch it. Then explain that this exercise allows siblings to 'hang out their dirty washing' and get these difficulties off their chest.

In small groups give siblings paper shapes of various items of clothing – shorts, t-shirts, hats boxer shorts etc. and siblings to write down their own examples of difficult times onto the shapes. Make some of the shapes silly and colourful to encourage siblings to write on them. Some siblings like to make a full outfit of clothing and enjoy customizing the shapes.

Collect up the washing into a washing bag/basket and then in the large group ask siblings to take a turn at pulling out the washing, reading out the difficulty and hanging it onto the line (keep the washing safe for the next part of the activity). Often there are several examples of the same difficulty and this helps siblings to understand that it is not just them experiencing situations.

Part 2


Encourage siblings to understand how their actions can escalate or de-escalate a difficult situation

You will need

Paper washing shapes from part one of the activity.

Large sheet of paper and pens

How to do it

Ask the siblings to take it in turns picking a piece of washing out of the box and reading it to the group.

Discuss responses to the situation and write them on a large piece of paper. Then rate the answers = works, might work, won't work.

Example:Brother has a tantrum in the supermarket.

Laugh - (might work to relieve tension/won't work because brother will get more annoyed)
Walk away -  (works because gets you out of the situation).

Then explain that what they do can make a big difference to their own and their sibling's lives and offer the following top tips:

Ignore - small things, especially if you think they have done something just to get attention. Then give attention when the behaviour stops

Distract - move their attention to something else

'Nip it in the bud'  - before the situation gets too difficult. You could try to ask them to stop it before it goes too far, giving a reason that may persuade them to stop

Break in – whisper or do something funny or clap or blow in the face to try to break into what they are doing.

Avoid it – you may see an outburst coming and you could avoid it by removing something they dislike or fear. You could also move away if you think it may involve you

Ask mum/dad/helpful adult – this is a good one when you are having a hard time

The siblings should then be able to check their lists for any similarities with the top tips

Workers should emphasise that although siblings are not responsible for their brother/ sister's behaviour, what they do can make or prevent a situation escalate. However, if a situation potentially places a sibling in danger, they should always seek support from an adult.


In pairs ask the siblings to act out the scenario and how they can respond in a way that helps the sibling.

As a large group take one scenario and act it out several times, just changing the sibling responses to see the difference it makes to scene.

Type up the discussions to give out as a reminder for the siblings