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Sibling Support

The hospitalization of a child can be frightening and confusing, not only for the patient, but also for their siblings.  Child life specialists can help assess and promote understanding for siblings based on their developmental level to encourage positive coping.

Emotions Siblings May Experience:

• Fear that they may "catch" the illness
• Guilt that they have somehow caused the illness
• Anger at caregivers for "allowing" the sibling to become sick
• Jealousy due to extra time and attention that the patient is being given

Typical Sibling Reactions:

• Regression to behaviors they have outgrown
• Changes in eating and sleeping habits
• Withdrawing from family or peers
• Acting out to gain attention
• Increasing dependence on caregivers

Tips for Helping Siblings Cope:

• Give honest, developmentally appropriate information
• Provide the choice to visit the hospital
• Prepare siblings for physical changes of the patient
• Plan special time with siblings so they do not feel neglected
• Maintain normal routines as much as possible
• Listen to your child’s feelings about their sibling’s hospitalization
• Encourage siblings to be involved in the hospital experience

If you know siblings will be visiting during your child’s visit, check out Kids Camp; a supervised playroom for patients and siblings.