Brothers and sisters

Your child's siblings may be feeling worried, left out, thrown by the change in routine or simply missing your attention. It can be tough when your other children look to you for reassurance when you have your own worries.

How they might be feeling

If you are at hospital a lot they may be missing you and, of course, your regular family routines may have been disrupted. They might worry that they have somehow caused the cancer and younger children may also worry about 'catching' cancer.

Tips for talking to siblings

  • Children's storybooks about cancer are a 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
  • 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 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 them too.

Teenage brothers and sisters

Older siblings might have very mixed feelings and different ways of coping with what's going on. Some might find it difficult to deal, others could take it in their stride.

It's important to be aware that they will have a complicated role throughout this - they might feel a sense of responsibility to hold things together for everyone, supporting you as you support your other child. They might feel sidelined as your attention is inevitably focused on their sibling.

For more about this, take a look at our brothers and sisters page for young people.  

Further support for siblings

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

Where next?

Updated February 2018, next review due February 2019.