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"Siblings Stepping Up: Helping Siblings Understand and Support Their Brother or Sister After Surgery"

Updated: May 14

When a child undergoes surgery, it's not just the patient who experiences a change in routine and emotions. Siblings can also be significantly impacted by the experience. They might feel confused, worried, or even jealous of the extra attention their brother or sister is receiving.

This blog post is here to help parents navigate this delicate situation. We'll explore strategies to prepare siblings for their brother or sister's surgery and guide them on how to offer support in the recovery process.

Understanding Your Sibling's Feelings:

It's normal for siblings to have mixed emotions about their brother or sister's surgery. They might feel:

  • Confused: They might not understand what surgery is or why it's happening.

  • Worried: They might be concerned about their sibling's well-being and scared of the unknown.

  • Angry: They might feel resentment at the extra attention their sibling is receiving or frustration over disrupted routines.

  • Jealous: They might crave the same level of care and attention.

Preparing Siblings for Surgery:

Here are some tips to help prepare your siblings for their brother or sister's surgery:

  • Age-appropriate explanation: Talk to them about the surgery in a simple and honest way. Explain why it's happening and what to expect during the hospital stay and recovery process. Use visuals like pictures or books if they are younger.

  • Answer their questions: Encourage them to ask questions and address their concerns openly. Validate their feelings and let them know it's okay to feel worried or scared.

  • Reassure them they're still loved: Let them know that even though one sibling needs extra attention, they are still important and loved dearly.

  • Maintain routines as much as possible: Disruptions are inevitable, but try to maintain normalcy in their daily lives as much as possible. This provides a sense of stability and comfort.

Supporting Siblings During Recovery:

Here are ways siblings can offer support during their brother or sister's recovery:

  • Creating a "get well" card or drawing: A simple gesture like a homemade card or drawing can show their love and concern.

  • Playing games together (when appropriate): Once it's safe, play board games, read stories, or engage in light activities that their sibling can participate in.

  • Helping with small tasks: Encourage them to participate in age-appropriate ways, like fetching books or water for their sibling.

  • Showing patience and understanding: Recovery takes time, and there might be setbacks. Encourage patience and understanding on their part.

Additional Tips for Parents:

  • Schedule one-on-one time with each child: Dedicate time for individual conversations and activities with each sibling to prevent them from feeling neglected.

  • Encourage open communication: Encourage your children to talk to you about their feelings, even if they are negative.

  • Acknowledge their feelings: Listen to their concerns and validate their emotions. Let them know it's okay to feel happy, sad, or angry.

  • Consider a support group for siblings: Support groups can connect siblings with others going through similar experiences and provide a safe space to share feelings.


Siblings can be a tremendous source of love and support during a challenging time. By preparing them and encouraging open communication, you can foster a sense of teamwork and strengthen the bond between your children.

Disclaimer: This blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with your child's pediatrician or a mental health professional for guidance on supporting your children through a sibling's surgery.

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