Brothers and Sisters
When a child with cancer is very ill, naturally a parent’s focus is on that child. As a parent, you may not be able to pay as much attention to your other children.
- Try to involve your other children in their ill siblings treatment. Consider taking them along to see for themselves what the hospital and treatments are like.
- Your children need to know that the cancer treatments, however unpleasant, are needed to help their brother/sister get well again.
- Children need to know that no-one is to blame for the cancer. They have not caused the cancer by wishing bad things or by spreading germs.
- Try to prepare your children by thinking of possible questions and answers other children may ask so they they will not be caught unaware.
- Talk about the questions school friends have already asked and how your child answered them.
- Discuss ways to help your child feel more comfortable talking about their siblings illness.
As a result of the stress surrounding the family, siblings’ behaviour may change.
Your other children may mimic symptoms, noticing that the child with cancer receives immediate attention from their parents.
They may be terrified that their brother/sister is going to die but know that as parents you already have enough to worry about. Instead they may bottle up stress which can result in sleeping disorders, self induced vomiting, compulsive repetitive behaviour.
Talk with your child, remember specialist help, such as a child psychologist, is available to help resolve problems.