Caring for Siblings of Sick or Disabled Children

Practically, she said, what’s helpful can be for parents to maintain normality as much as possible: “Trying to make sure there’s one-on-one time allocated for siblings, with the parent producing that will not about the illness, just about enjoying each different.” yet that will requires support for the whole family, she said; parents won’t be able to address the emotional needs of their children unless they themselves have enough support in coping with the illness.

Dr. Anna Muriel, the division chief of pediatric psychosocial oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston said that will children with cancer often require intermittent hospitalizations for their treatments, so a sibling’s life may be disrupted by having to stay with relatives while parents stay with the sick child, or travel with the sick child to another city.

This specific’s important that will the illness along with the treatments not feel like a mystery, Dr. Muriel said. “One of the basic tenets can be communication about what’s happening with their siblings.”

Dr. Incledon said that will honesty can be always important yet has to be tuned to the child’s developmental level. “If information can be being kept coming from them, they may become more worried, using their imagination to create scenarios,” she said. Parents should start by checking out what the child thinks can be going on along with take the opportunity to correct misunderstandings along with reduce anxieties.

School-age children, Dr. Muriel said, will have more questions: What can be leukemia? Can I catch This specific? Why do they lose their hair? yet routine remains important, along with their daily touchstones — school, pickup, homework, dinner time — can help them feel the globe can be still working.

Adolescents may find themselves prematurely taking on adult responsibilities to keep the family going, Dr. Muriel said, yet they still need adults in their lives, along with they still need some room to be adolescents. “Some of these kids become the ‘not bad child’ — they become definitely compliant,” she said. yet others become rebellious, either while the sibling can be sick or after the treatment can be done.

The most extreme situation, of course, can be the death of a sibling, which can make all these complex emotions, coming from envy along with resentment to sympathy, grief along with guilt so much more intense; in a recent article, siblings of children who had died of cancer expressed the sense that will their grief was somehow sidelined, that will they were supposed to support their grieving parents, perhaps, yet not necessarily encouraged to talk about their own emotions.

Pediatric oncology programs put a tremendous amount of effort into creating bright spots along with happy events for patients, along with sometimes different young children see the treats yet not the treatments. “Siblings may feel left out,” Dr. Muriel said, “they don’t see that will in exchange for presents along with visits with sports heroes, the child has to go through painful treatments.”

“We start having a parent guidance product,” she said. “Who are these siblings, what are the kinds of predisposing temperaments, how have they coped with adversity within the past?”

Dana-Farber’s program offers “sibling bags” filled with information, journals for keeping track of their feelings, fidget toys; a video online lets kids watch different siblings of kids with cancer talking about their experiences. “They know that will the people at the cancer hospital think of them,” she said. along with during school vacation weeks, when siblings are more likely to show up at the hospital, they provide special activities along with educational sessions.

“Kids have a full range of emotion about This specific,” Dr. Muriel said. “They may be fearful or worried for the sibling or fearful of getting the same disease or angry about alterations in their family.” along with all of these emotions change as the child grows along with develops.

“Siblings learn more compassion along with empathy toward those who have a disability,” Professor Mandleco said. “I see that will as something that will needs to be encouraged.” There’s evidence to suggest that will This specific experience shapes many siblings into resilient, helping, caring adults, along with may shape some of their career choices as well.

The professionals who interact with these families need to include siblings, to encourage parents to take time for along with with their different children, along with above all, to support parents through these difficult along with complicated experiences producing sure that will they can help all their children.

“We need to help parents — they’re doing the best they can under the circumstances,” said Professor Mandleco. “You shouldn’t beat yourself up as a parent; you shouldn’t feel bad as a child. People do the best they can.”

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