Brothers and sisters

My brother is 11 and doesn't understand about my cancer and all the treatment I am going through. How can I help him understand?

Lesley Nicol, a CLIC Sargent Social Worker, says: 

It can be really hard to explain things when they are happening to you. Perhaps you could ask your parents or another adult who knows exactly what’s happening to talk to your brother and answer his questions. If he can visit you when you’re in hospital, this could help him understand more about what is happening as well. You could look at the CLIC Sargent website with your brother or get your parents or carer to order some great books that you can read together. 

I’m getting a lot of attention because I have cancer and my little sister feels left out. What would make her feel more included?

Lesley Nicol, a CLIC Sargent Social Worker, says: 

It’s great that you’re thinking of ways to help your sister. Sometimes brothers and sisters can feel a bit jealous of the attention you’re getting. Plus it can be tough if you’re in hospital and mum and dad are with you, and they have to stay with someone else. Maybe you could all do something together, like a trip to the park or a movie evening at home. Or you could suggest that your parents and sister spend some time together while you do something with a friend or your grandparents.

My big brother is bottling things up and doesn’t want to talk about my cancer. How can I help him open up?

Lesley Nicol, a CLIC Sargent Social Worker, says: 

Your brother might have lots of questions about your cancer, but feel worried about bothering you or your parents. Why not suggest that he writes his thoughts down? You could ask if he would like to talk to somebody from your CLIC Sargent care team, or find out if they can put him in touch with other people his age whose brother or sister has cancer. It’s a good idea to tell your parents that you’re worried, so they can try to help him too.

When I have a headache, what can I say to my sisters to stop them from bring too loud?

Lesley Nicol, a CLIC Sargent Social Worker, says: 

Your sisters might not always understand that you’re feeling tired or unwell. But if you tell them how you feel, you might be surprised by how understanding they are. Of course, they need room to be their noisy selves too sometimes! When you need some peace and quiet, how about spending some time in your room reading a book or listening to music with headphones? Or ask your parents to help your sisters find something quieter to do, like watching a DVD or doing a craft activity.

I sometimes get easily angry with my brother. Is there a way to keep calm?

Lesley Nicol, a CLIC Sargent Social Worker, says: 

See if you can stop, take some deep breaths, and count to 10 (or 100 if you are really cross!) before you say something you may feel unhappy about later. It may also help to talk to your family about how you are feeling. Maybe your brother can tell you how he is feeling too. It may not stop you feeling cross with each other but it could change the way you handle it.

Last reviewed: September 2015
Next planned review: 2018

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