When diabetes appears in the family scenario, the attention is paid to the child with the condition. This is an emergency situation that requires more dedication.

The family needs to reorganize the schedule. While the child is at the hospital everyone needs to cooperate. Siblings miss their parents. They will have psychological needs that have to be solved. There are two big issues that worry them.

•  Fantasies about possible death of their brother or sister with diabetes (he or she is at the hospital) and that is a bad sign.

Vulnerability of their parents, they see them sad, nervous, anxious, tired… they can had also see them cry.

If there aren’t any answers the healthy sibling may think that something bad is happening.

The siblings need information about:

How her /his brother got sick?
Will this happen to him/her or their parents?
Is it contagious?
Is he/she going to die?, etc.
It is better to provide accurate information and make them feel that they can count with their parents.

Once the initial crisis is over is common to see one or more of these behaviors:

•  Tantrums, siblings can draw family attention with tantrums, yelling or bad school development. They must be trying to say that they need their parent’s care. If they get family attention with this kind of behavior they will keep it.

Guilty feelings, they can think that diabetes was caused by them, for example when they hit their brother or sister. They can ask their parents for punishment.

Jealousy, siblings can see their brother or sister as a rival, the one that took away their parents attention, can make fun of their brother or sister, or can eat certain things that the other child can’t eat in front of his/her.

Diabetes can sometimes destroy self teem of siblings because they see themselves to close from disease or death. The healthy kid can begin to say that he/she has headaches, stomachaches, dizziness, etc.

•  The model child, this is the child that tries to keep pain away form mom and dad. He/she will keep everything in order, set the table, take out the garbage, cleans her/his room, etc. But at the same time he/she is angry with his/her brother/sister.

The nurse kid, the healthy kid assumes the role of taking care of the child with diabetes more than expected. He/she can become an extension of the parents or doctor. Playing a role for which he/she isn’t prepare.

Parents should supervise the way that siblings without diabetes find their new balance in the family and should pay attention to their emotional stability because they are still part of the family.
Written by: Iñaki Lorente Almendáriz
Translated by: Ana González de Elías
education > living with diabetes