Preparing your child to visit a sibling in the hospital

Preparing Children to Visit a Sibling in the Hospital

When you have a child  in the hospital, his or her siblings are also affected. Here are some ways to help siblings cope with the hospitalization of a sibling.

  • Be honest with your child about why his or her sibling is in the hospital. Use simple, concrete language with them.
  • If their sibling has been diagnosed with an illness or disease, talk to your other children about what that illness or disease is. They may want to know if it’s contagious.
  • Check with staff to see if siblings can visit. We promote family-centered care and know that a big part of healing is having the entire family present.
  • Sometimes, children may feel left out because their parents are at the hospital for long periods of time. Try to set aside special one-on-one time with that child. This may help with the adjustment.
  • If the siblings are not able to visit, try to keep them connected by writing letters, drawing pictures, or video chat using FaceTime, Skype, etc.
  • If your child is able to visit, prepare them for what they will see, including the sights and sounds of the hospital setting.

If your child is in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), you will need to prepare siblings for a more overwhelming environment. Click here for tips on how to prepare siblings for a visit to the PICU.


Child Life Can Help

If you have questions or you're concerned about how to discuss these topics with your child, Child Life Specialists at HSHS St. Vincent Children’s Hospital can help. They are trained to teach children and families the skills it takes to cope with the loss of a loved one. If you are interested in speaking or meeting with a Child Life Specialist, call 920-433-8641 or notify your child’s doctor.