Emotional Support and Preparation for Siblings

A child's hand as they play with an association puzzle.
Having a child in the hospital affects other children in the family, too. Our Child Life Program team offers support for siblings. Our team can also help you provide the care and encouragement each child needs.

How siblings may feel

It is common for siblings to have:

  • Guilt that the sickness is somehow their fault.
  • Jealousy of a sick sibling’s attention or gifts.
  • Anger or acting out at friends, siblings or others.
  • Worry that they may catch the illness or get sick.
  • Loneliness or feeling left out of the hospital experience and family routines.
  • Sadness and avoidance of some of their normal activities.

How you can help

  • Explain what is happening in terms siblings can understand.
  • Clarify that they did not cause the illness or condition.
  • Encourage siblings to visit the hospital.
  • Talk with our child life specialists about how to prepare for a sibling visit.
  • Ask siblings about any concerns or questions they may have.
  • Give your children ways to express themselves, such as drawing, writing or playing.
  • Spend time with siblings, even for a short time.
    • Call them from the hospital
    • Do their bedtime ritual over the phone or a video connection.
    • Attend their games or other events.
  • Identify a trusted adult your child can talk to.
  • Encourage siblings to go to school and maintain normal routines.

Learn more

For families

Call 503-418-5388 for more information.

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