Whether it's injury or illness, the whole family, parents, grandparents, caregivers, brothers/sisters, all feel the impact of a sick child. Normal routines give way to hospital visits or doctors visits.  Or, for the healthy sibling, more time is spent with grandparents, extended family, or friends.


When a brother or sister is seriously ill or injured, children might feel confused, upset, afraid, numb or worried. Siblings will need time to adjust to their brother or sister’s medical needs and treatment. More and more hospitals are recognizing the importance of caring for siblings and have extended visiting hours or even incorporated programs to help them cope. Most siblings will react in very positive ways, with love, caring, and support. However, if you notice the following behaviors, you may want to help the parents/caregivers find the appropriate help:

In younger children:

  • Clinginess to parents or other caregivers
  • Temper tantrums
  • Doing things again that they had grown out of, like bed wetting
  • Trouble sleeping, having nightmares, or being afraid of the dark

In older children and teens:

  • Wanting to be alone or to be with parents/caregivers all the time
  • Being easily overwhelmed, jumpy or irritable
  • Changes in behavior, more sensitive or quiet, or talking back or getting into fights
  • Trouble sleeping or having nightmares
  • Missing friends or feeling left out
  • Problems in school

Does your hospital provide programs for siblings? Join the discussion on sibling care on our Facebook page!