Helping siblings cope

A child’s life changes dramatically when their brother or sister is diagnosed with a serious illness. We know from speaking to siblings we support that their lives can be turned upside down, while parents understandably rally to support the sick child and balance the demands of family life.

Parents often tell us they feel really guilty, but are forced to focus on the sick child despite knowing how hard this is for their other children. How can we make sure that all children have the support they need?

This National Sibling’s Day read as siblings share their thoughts and tips for how to help them cope with having a seriously ill brother or sister.

“Don’t try to make me talk about what is going on. Subtle questions are ok, but I will talk when I am ready.”

“Try to talk to me about the future, even if you can’t give me answers.”

“Get to know me. Take time to talk to me and find out what I like and what’s going on in my life.”

“Be honest with me, tell me what you can about my sibling’s health and make sure I know what days appointments are on and what these appointments are for. Not knowing makes me worry.”

“Understand that sometimes I will be worried and angry. I’m just trying to understand everything that is going on.”

“Make things with me, using arts and crafts.”

“Listen to me. You don’t always have to give me solutions, I just want someone to hear what I am saying.”

“Writing helps me to think about how I feel and talk about things I find difficult.”

“Don’t be angry if I don’t act the way you expect when you tell me something.”

“Let me say what I think, even if you don’t agree with me.”