Mary Harbin preaches and practices such reinforcement. “We work hard to convey to both of our sons that they have been wonderfully created with unique strengths and interests, and we work to explore and celebrate each one.”

When to Seek Help

When is a child really suffering from the effects of having a sibling with arthritis? Joanna Fanos, director of the Sibling Center at California Pacific Medical Center, advises parents to seek help if children:

  • Start acting out as a result of keeping feelings inside.
  • Get into more accidents, because they’re distracted, upset or angry, they’re not taking care of themselves, or they’re trying to get attention.
  • Exhibit clingy behavior – especially in younger children. “They may have separation anxiety if they feel mom and/or dad is away at doctor’s appointments or at the hospital all the time.”
  • Find unhealthy ways to comfort themselves – through overeating, drinking (adolescents) or bad relationships.
  • Start showing anxiety about getting sick, thinking that getting arthritis could happen to them.