Impact of Juvenile Arthritis on Siblings
By Beth Axtell
Having a child with arthritis can add a new dimension to sibling rivalry. Learn to how to avoid problems.
Siblings of children with juvenile arthritis (JA) often experience the full gamut of emotions – from guilt and resentment to anger, loneliness, anxiety, confusion and a feeling they never get enough attention. But, experts say, with a little effort and creativity, the family can work through these issues – and even come out stronger as a result.
According to a 2018 review published in the Turkish Archives of Pediatrics, chronic disease affects healthy siblings, leaving them more susceptible to anxiety, depression, symptoms of posttraumatic stress, lower quality of life and peer problems. The same review, however, found that children and adolescents who grow up with a sibling who has a chronic disease become more sensitive, patient, compassionate, empathic, easygoing and socially competent.
Prevent Potential Problems Between Siblings
Spread the Attention Around
Parents can make special play dates with the healthy siblings, recommends Elizabeth Roth-Wojcicki, CPNP, advanced practice nurse practitioner in rheumatology at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. “One-on-one time with each child goes a long way to making everyone feel special.” She further advises you enlist the help of aunts, uncles, grandparents or friends to spend time with siblings while you take your child with JA to appointments. Or have them take your child to an appointment while you spend time with the siblings.
Divide Chores Equally
Look for Signs of Distress
- Dropping grades
- Stomach aches
- Acting out
- Sleeping or eating problems
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