When a child is diagnosed with a serious medical problem or disability, all members of the child's family are affected. Siblings can feel confused, worried and scared. They may miss their brother or sister and feel isolated from their parents who are trying to take care of the child. They may feel some jealousy or resentment because the child receives extra attention from family, doctors and teachers.
Despite all the challenges, brothers and sisters can adapt very well with the right kind of guidance. They can learn to be caring and independent. They can learn to appreciate their families' and their own health.
Families often have questions about how to help their children adapt in the best way. What follows is an outline of some of the common concerns for brothers and sisters, as well as some guidelines to keep in mind as you balance the needs of all the children in your family.
It is important to remember that every child is unique and no two families are exactly the same. Like their parents, siblings cope and adapt better to their brother's or sister's illness when they have information, support from their families, and the opportunity to speak with other people who have had similar experiences.
Many services are available at Rhode Island Hospital/ Hasbro Children's Hospital to address the needs of brothers and sisters, including the hospital's SibLink Program.
To learn more about any of the support services available for siblings, please call Debra Lobato, PhD, department of child and family psychiatry at 401-444-8945. All questions and concerns are welcome.