Chronic Illness for a child affects their sibling too!

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When children develop a chronic medical or mental health illness, the entire family is affected. The financial burden, martial discord and parental stress impact the sibling(s) greatly. Siblings are often not given the attention they need because their chronically ill brother or sister takes precedence. For example, during a doctor visit, a sibling will be told to “quiet down” when they are in need, but the focus is on the chronically ill child. These siblings may exhibit behavioral problems, such as poor social skills, low self-esteem, somatic complaints, low frustration tolerance, isolation, anxiety, depression, excessive worry, attention seeking behaviors and poor academic performance. Some siblings are given additional responsibilities in the family while lacking physical and emotional support from their parents. This may result in feelings of conflicting emotions, such as shame, guilt and jealousy. We work with families to support siblings in establishing open communication to combat fears and anxieties and to create a peaceful family environment. 

Vivienne Cameron Ovid, MS, CAP with Genesis Counseling & Consulting, Inc. in Boca Raton, Florida

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