Illness and injury of a child can impact an entire family, especially healthy siblings. Whether the changes include extra doctor visits, therapy visits, or hospitalizations, the healthy sibling’s life will be effected in some way.
Healthy siblings can display a wide range of feelings and emotions which may include:
Here are some ways to support these well siblings and help them through their feelings:
- Be honest with them about what is happening. Share your feelings so they know it is okay to share their feelings.
- Give your time, not gifts. Set up specific times to spend one-on-one with the healthy sibling. Try marking them down on a calendar so that younger children have a “visual” to remind them.
- Continue daily routines. Keeping (as much as possible) a normal schedule for mealtimes, school, homework, chores and bed time can help the child/teen stay focused and on task. Work with the healthy sibling to design a calendar or schedule to keep posted so they know “what is when”.
- Try to prepare for changes in the house. If a parent will be absent from the home, a babysitter or family member may come in to help. Let the sibling know this in advance and set up rules/guidelines so everyone is on the same page.
- Keep teachers informed of changes. This will help school understand if there are behavioral issues and will allow them to be sensitive and understanding to the situation.
- Validate the feelings of the healthy sibling. Reassure them that they are not to blame and it is okay to feel the way they feel.
If you would like to seek out extra help, North Shore Pediatric Therapy has an experienced Social Work team that can help work through the various emotions and behaviors.