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Golisano Children's Hospital / For Parents / Helping Siblings Cope

For Parents

Helping Siblings Cope

photoWhen a child must stay in the hospital, it can be just as frightening for a brother or sister as it is for the child who is ill or injured. Changes in family routines, separation from parents, and concern about their sibling can shake their sense of security.

Many of the same techniques you use to prepare your child for hospitalization can also be used to help your other children.

  • Give your children as much honest information about their sibling’s health as they can understand.
  • Provide opportunities for them to ask questions and express feelings
  • Include siblings in the preparation and planning. Take them on the tour of the hospital, too.
  • Maintain their routine as much as possible.
  • Set aside some private time with them and make it a point to recognize important events in their lives.
  • When you have to be away from home with your hospitalized child.
    • Arrange to have someone both you and they trust stay with them.
    • Check in by phone as often as you can. Perhaps call at bedtime to read a story.
    • Send letters, tapes, emails or whatever form of communication works for your family.
  • Nurture ongoing involvement between siblings and the hospitalized child throughout the experience.
    • Have siblings draw pictures or make cards to send to the hospital.
    • Set up times for siblings to call the child in the hospital
    • When possible, give siblings the choice of visiting.
      If they plan to visit, be sure to prepare them for what they will see, hear, feel and smell.
    • Play online computer games together.
    • Create a photo album of the hospital.
    • Send a journal back and forth so siblings can keep in touch and share notes and stories about daily activities
  • Inform school guidance counselors about what is happening.
  • Allow siblings to keep a balance between increased responsibility at home and their normal activities.
  • Talk to your Child Life Specialist for other ideas.