Parent Skill #4 — Help Your Family Cope

Help your other children, spouse and extended family develop healthy coping strategies

You already have enough on your plate without having to worry about everybody else! However, helping others cope with your child's illness and its impact on the family, will happen without much effort on your part. Your attitude about these changes and the way you approach them will help guide the reactions of those around you. Developing a healthy coping strategy for yourself will likely lead to healthy coping strategies for other family members. Any child with a chronic illness will require much of your time and energy, thus it is no surprise that your other family members might feel ignored, jealous, resentful, lonely or frightened.

Best friends!

Siblings are especially vulnerable to these emotions. Children will worry about their ill sibling, their parents and whether they might "catch" the illness. Talk openly and honestly with your children about the diagnosis and treatment. Make sure to schedule time to spend with each child individually. Bring them along to visit the sick child in the hospital. This will help them develop healthy coping strategies. Children will feel more like an important member of the family when they are involved in the care of the ill sibling.

Spouses and partners also need your attention. It is a good idea to schedule "dates", to remember what life was like when you were a couple. Arranging a sitter for the evening or asking grandma to invite the other kids over can help the entire family. Speaking of grandma, extended family members will take their cue from you regarding how to cope with your child's illness. Family members often want to help, but may have difficulty knowing exactly what help is needed. The solution:  Tell them! When you allow family members to help in the care of your child, you will get a much-needed break and your family will feel appreciated.

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