Preparing Siblings for What to Expect When a Child Needs Surgery

The surgical experience for a brother or sister can bring out many feelings. The sibling might feel afraid, worried, guilty or confused, and because they do not know what to expect, they too may imagine the worst. Some siblings even develop jealousy as a result of the extra attention given to their sibling. To help with these feelings you might try the following:

  • Include siblings in conversations about the surgery. Use words they understand.
  • Make sure they understand why their sibling is having surgery.
  • Make sure they know nothing they did caused this to happen. “Being mean” to a brother or sister is not why they need surgery.
  • Make sure they know you will be home as soon as everything is finished.
  • Read books about going to the hospital with the entire family. See this list of age-appropriate educational resources.
  • Try to set aside alone time for you and your child at home so they can get some special attention.

For more guidance about how to prepare your family for a child's surgery, contact the Family Teaching Program at The Bristol-Myers Squibb Children's Hospital.

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