Children at home may become angry or jealous concerning the attention the hospitalized or ill child may be getting or feel guilty for desiring more attention. Try to understand their feelings, as well as provide explanations as to why you have to be at the hospital so much.
Because young children do not have the verbal skills to tell you, "I’m scared, confused, angry or jealous," the only way they can tell you is through their behavior. They may become demanding, clinging, or have increased difficulties tolerating separations. They may not be able to sleep through the night or may have nightmares. They may ignore you when you come home. This is their way of telling you they need patience and love. Usually, after everything settles down and the family can return to a routine again, these behaviors go away.
Some suggestions to decrease the stress on siblings include:
- Open family communication to alleviate any misconceptions and help in understanding.
- Try to spend some time at home, if possible, during the hospitalization.
- Involve the sibling who cannot visit by having him help prepare a tape recording.
- When it is not possible to go home, call or send letters.
After hospitalization, it is important to spend some time with each child individually.