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It is hard enough for parents to deal with children that suffer with illnesses but when additional children are also part of the equation, the stress and concerns can be unbearable. Sadness, fear, jealousy,worry, guilt are just some of the emotions children endure when their siblings are ill. Already burdened parents may not even consider the stress the other children are under or they may feel guilty themselves for the pressures on the family.
Help children cope by providing a listening ear
A child that is healthy physically may be struggling emotionally. Ask how they are feeling and allow them to express themselves without being angry or judgemental. If you routinely get the answer “fine” or “o.k.” with no elaboration, have them write down what they are most scared of, excited about or worried about. Giving them a prompt may get the ball rolling.
Have a special time for the healthy child
Children with siblings that are ill often feel neglected and then feel guilty because of it. Having a time set aside for the well child to do something fun or spend quality time with mom or dad can go a long way in maintaining important relationships and showing the child that they are still important.
Let them help
Adults are not the only ones who have feelings of helplessness. Show a sibling that they are needed by teaching them simple tasks to help their brother or sister, this will create family unity and prevent feelings of isolation. Do not force a child to participate using threats or guilt but do give them the opportunity to be involved.