Mary Bridge Children's Hospital

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Tips for Parents

Helping Siblings Cope

When a child needs heart surgery, it can be stressful on the whole family, including brothers and sisters. They often feel anxious about disrupted family routines. Here are a few suggestions for how you can help siblings cope.

  • Communicate openly and honestly about your child's heart condition with the siblings and encourage them to express feelings and ask questions.
  • When possible, it may be helpful to take along a family member or friend who can help keep the sibling(s) busy during your child's clinic visit.
  • For longer hospital visits, make sure there is someone special, such as a grandparent or family friend, to spend one-on-one time with siblings.
  • If a sibling wants to visit their brother or sister in the hospital, ask a Child Life Specialist to help prepare him or her.
  • Encourage siblings to help out their brother or sister by drawing a picture, watching a movie together, or calling him/her on the phone.