How brothers and sisters may feel

Your child's siblings may be feeling worried about their brother or sister. If you are at hospital a lot they may be missing you and, of course, your regular family routines may have been disrupted. They may worry that they have somehow caused the cancer, perhaps because of arguments, and younger children may also worry about 'catching' cancer.

It can be tough when your other children look to you for reassurance when you have your own worries. The tips below may help.

Tips for talking to siblings:

  • It can be hard, but try to make time for your other children and give them opportunities to talk
  • Children's books about cancer are another useful way to start a conversation. 
  • It's fine if children don't want to talk – just let them know that you are happy to do so when they feel able to
  • Let them know that sharing worries with other people often makes things easier
  • Think about including siblings' friends in conversations so that they can help support them
  • Tell siblings you will keep them informed about what's happening every step of the way
  • Talk to their schools too, so that they can offer them the support
  • Asking questions that aren't about your child's illness, like: 'What's going on with you at the moment?' will let siblings know you're thinking of their feelings too.

Some hospitals have support groups for siblings. Your child’s care team or CLIC Sargent Social Worker will have more information.

Reviewed November 2014, next planned review 2016.