Sibling Support

brother helping push sibling's wheelchairWhen a brother or sister is in the hospital, siblings can feel left out or as if their needs are put to the side — even if this isn’t the case. It’s important to let siblings know they are being heard. This is why, in addition to helping pediatric patients, the child life specialists at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center provide sibling support.

We understand that a child’s illness can impact the entire family — and that the best way to support each family member is to meet them at their level of development in order to help them understand what is going on and develop positive coping strategies.

Our goals in providing sibling support include:

  • Educating siblings about what is going on with their brother or sister
  • Supporting the emotional and developmental needs of siblings
  • Engaging siblings to help them find ways they can be supportive of their brother or sister
  • Making sure siblings know they are special, too — even when their brother or sister seems to be getting a lot of special attention

Services We Offer

Sibling support looks different for each family, which is why the child life specialists at Children’s tailor their support services for each child. Some of these sibling support services include:

  • Offering family activities at the hospital throughout the week: These activities are meant to encourage siblings to visit, when possible. For instance, we have movie night on Fridays and bingo on Wednesday afternoons.
  • Using play to help siblings understand what is going on: For example, we play hospital bingo instead of regular bingo. Rather than using letters and numbers, we use medical instruments — like a stethoscope. This allows us to explain what these instruments are and how they are used.
  • Providing end-of-life support: Helping siblings determine how they’ll say goodbye to their brother or sister and addressing their grief and level of understanding of what is happening.

“Child life specialists can provide sibling support. We can spend time with siblings, have one-on-one play, and provide diagnosis teaching and medical play to encourage positive coping and outlets for them. There are lots of ways to make sure siblings aren’t feeling left out. It’s just a matter of finding the right ones for your child.”

—Christy Hogan, BS, CCLS, Child Life Specialist, Children’s Hospital & Medical Center

What To Do Next

Your child’s nurse can put you in touch with Child Life services. You can also call Child Life services at 402-955-5322.

For more information about family resources, call 402-955-4014.

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