Sibling Support

Sometimes when one child in a family has health care needs, brothers or sisters may have many troubling feelings such as sadness, worry, anger, or guilt. At times parents think this is their fault, but this isn't the case. In fact, it's normal for brothers and sisters to experience many conflicting feelings when they have a sibling who is ill or has special health care needs.

Some ways feelings are expressed

Often children don't know how to talk about their feelings. They express themselves in other ways such as:

  • a change in eating habits (eating more or less)
  • becoming quiet
  • spending time alone or away from family members
  • 尽力讨好家长或其他大人
  • acting out by not listening, fighting, or even hitting others
  • 比平常更努力地博取他人好感
  • returning to younger behaviors, such as bed wetting, "baby talk," or thumb sucking
  • saying that they feel sick or acting like the sick child


  • sad: because they miss you and the sick child
  • lonely and left out: These feelings may arise when brothers or sisters are spending more time than usual away from their parents or alone. They may feel left out if no one tells them what is happening.
  • worried and afraid: They may worry about you and be afraid about what is happening to their sick brother or sister. 他们可能认为一切都在改变,而且不会再跟从前一样。Sometimes they think that they may get sick too or worry that their parents may get sick.
  • guilty: Sometimes brothers and sisters think that they caused the illness because they did something mean or had mean thoughts. They may worry that it's their fault. They may also feel guilty because they are healthy and can do things their brother or sister can't do.
  • jealous and angry: Brothers or sisters sometimes feel jealous or angry because of all of the attention given to the sick child. They may act out their anger by not following rules or fighting with others. They may complain of feeling sick to get more attention.
  • confused: They may feel confused because they don't know what's happening now and what might follow and can't understand why it's happening.

Ways to help

Talk together as a family about what's happening with the sick child and why the child is sick. Give simple and honest explanations at your child's developmental level.

Tell brothers and sisters that it is important to ask questions and that you will try to answer them or find out the answers from the nurse or doctor.

鼓励孩子们表达他们的情绪。Let them know that it's okay to cry, be angry, be happy, and have many different feelings.

Keep daily routines as normal as possible, such as school attendance, meals, naps, and bedtimes.


When possible, bring brothers and sisters to visit the hospital. Talk with staff about how to prepare your child for a visit to the hospital. 根据您孩子的兴趣和身体舒适程度来安排探望。如果无法探望,则安排电话问候。


向家人和朋友寻求支持。Ask hospital staff about ways to find support for yourself and your family.