Sibling support

Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin’s Child Life program plays an important role in helping families cope with the hospital experience. While treatment focuses on the patient, child life specialists also take into consideration the needs of the whole family. Child life offers unique support for siblings who may need help coping. 

Brothers and sisters are encouraged to visit in the hospital, with preparation by Child Life, especially if the situation may be frightening or difficult for siblings to understand. While visiting, Child Life can help siblings in coping by providing specific developmentally-appropriate activities.

For the whole family, it may be helpful to:

  • Keep home routines and caregivers as consistent as possible.
  • Plan family time for siblings to share feelings and ask questions.
  • Keep teachers and day care providers informed.
  • Expect some acting-out behaviors.

While in the hospital, brothers and sisters may:

  • Visit the bedside of the patient.
  • Create "buddy cloth dolls" or banners for the patient's room.
  • Participate in bedside and/or playroom activities as possible depending on the child's condition and infection guidelines.
  • Create books about being a brother or sister.

Activities to help siblings at home may include:

  • Creating photo posters and cards for the patient's hospital room.
  • Making videotapes or audiotapes of favorite stories and songs.
  • Completing an "All About Me" poster to hang in the patient's room.
  • Communicating by email or cards.

Sibling Care

Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin offers Sibling Care for families. Brothers and sisters ages 2 to 12 may go to Sibling Care. They participate in age-appropriate play activities to help them understand their brother or sisters’ health care needs.

For more information, call (414) 266-3908.