Helping Siblings Cope with the Health Care
Siblings often have many different feelings when a brother or
sister is receiving medical care. Each sibling may react
differently to their brother's or sister's illness or injury. Some
common reactions siblings may have include:
- Guilt-siblings may feel that they are to blame for their
brother or sister being in the hospital or being sick. They may
think that something they did or said caused the illness/injury to
- Fear - siblings may worry that their brother's or sister's
illness or injury will happen to them.
- Jealousy - siblings may feel left out when the ill/injured
child receives more care and attention from other family
- Anger - siblings may be angry or upset about the changes
at home and in their normal daily routine that the illness/injury
- Neglect - siblings may feel that their parent/guardian no
longer loves or cares for them when more time is spent with the
You know your children best and how they cope with change.
Decide how much information you want to share with them.
What siblings may be imagining about their brother or sister
could be much scarier than the truth. Be open, be honest and allow
siblings to ask questions.
Before a sister or brother visits the hospital for the first
time, make sure the sibling understands what the hospital is and
what the nurses and doctors do. Explain some of the medical
equipment that they will see in a way that they can understand. A
Child Life Specialist can help to do this and can help make the
visit more comfortable. Children's storybooks about the hospital
are also helpful.
When siblings are unable to visit the hospital, they can keep in
touch with their brother or sister by sending drawings, letters,
photos and home videos.
Keep a normal routine as much as possible. Encourage siblings to
go to school and take part in normal activities. Spend time
together away from the hospital.