Looking after your other children

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Having a brother or sister with cancer will also be frightening for your other children, and they will experience a range of emotions similar to your own. The way they respond to these emotions will depend on their age and development level. They may miss their playmate and worry about you because they can see you are upset. The shift of your focus onto your child with cancer – particularly in the early stages when you have to spend a lot of time at hospital or going to appointments – may leave your other children feeling excluded and jealous. They might feel resentful about the disruption of their life or guilty because they are well when their sibling is sick. They might feel guilty about just having these kinds of negative feelings. (See For brothers and sisters.)

These feelings can be very confusing for your child's siblings. You might see some behavioural changes, such as fighting with friends, family and teachers, or getting lower marks than usual at school. It is very important that you keep open the channels of communication with your other children. Give them as much information as possible, include them in family discussions and decisions, and maintain their normal activities and routines.

It's also important to tell the school what is happening so that they can understand that the sibling might be suffering or undergoing behavioural changes. It's important to explain this because not all teachers at the school will automatically be aware of the impacts on the sibling.

Importantly, children need to feel safe around the child with cancer. Tell them that cancer can’t be passed on to other people. If your child with cancer has to be isolated from other people, either in hospital or at home, this is to protect them from getting an infection, not to protect everyone else.

Helpful suggestions

  • Reassure your other children that they are loved.
  • Make sure you spend time talking with your other children about how they feel and what they
  • ...
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published: Sunday, 23 August, 2015