For siblings of sick kids

We recognise that caring for a sick child or young person has an impact on the entire family and how difficult this can be.

We'd like parents and carers to feel supported in meeting the needs of all the children in their family and have put together this information, strategies and resources to help.

First and foremost, it's important that parents and carers provide as much honest information about the sick child as siblings can comprehend. Open communication helps reduce fear, anxiety and insecurities and creating opportunities for conversations about what will happen in the hospital provides siblings with a sense of control.

Hospital Social Workers or Child Life Therapists can support you with this communication in collaboration with your clinical team.

Tips for supporting siblings

  • Prepare your sick child for coming to the hospital in the company of your other children so they too know what will happen.
  • Let them ask questions and express their feelings.
  • Read stories to younger siblings about hospital visit and encourage playing 'hospitals' and 'medical play'.
  • While your child is in hospital, set aside some time just for siblings so that they have time with you.
  • Where possible, ask family members or friends to come to important events like birthdays, school concerts or sports events if you are unable to be there.
  • When you are away from your other children, try to set aside time to talk or text them to ensure they feel important and included. 
  • Allow opportunities for siblings to interact with each other as often as possible, especially during a hospital stay.
  • Encourage siblings to send drawings and cards to their brother or sister, talk on the phone and visit the hospital, when possible.
  • Consider explaining the situation to siblings’ teachers so that they are aware and can provide additional care while at school.

Sibling support research

In partnership with the University of NSW, the Kids Cancer Centre and Palliative Care teams have launched the SibStars project to better understand the needs of siblings. 

Books for siblings

External resources 

These external agencies can provide information on navigating through this challenging and often difficult time.