How do you inform your children that their new sibling may not be coming home from the hospital as quickly as you had thought? Take a bit of time to react to the diagnosis, and arm yourself with information and support to help share the news. Children are very intuitive, and also very resilient. Be as open and honest as you can possibly be, in simple, age appropriate language that they can understand.
Preparing how you explain it to your child(ren) is important. Choose your wording carefully to avoid confusion as children often take things very literally. Avoid making promises that you do not know you can provide to avoid future frustration and confusion. Allow them to express their feelings openly and let them know that you are always available to answer their questions, and provide the necessary comfort they may be seeking. Make time for the siblings, as they often become or feel like the "forgotten ones" while their new baby is in the hospital. It’s important that in the chaos they still have some individual attention. Reach out to family and friends and request their assistance with the child-rearing responsibilities as well.
There will be times when your emotions may spill out in the presence of your children. This is normal and unavoidable at times. Be gentle with yourself as you comfort and reassure them that you're there for their needs, and that expressing emotions is "okay".
It’s common for siblings to act out and have behavior issues during this time. Having a NICU baby affects the whole family. Seek outside assistance, if in doubt, through your local health provider or children's mental health services. Professionals will be able to recognize anything which may be concerning, and recommend/provide necessary supports and helpful resources.