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Effects of Hospitalization on Siblings
When one child in a family has to receive medical care, the experience can be upsetting to his/her siblings. Some emotional responses of these siblings may include:

  • Feelings of abandonment
  • Rejection and isolation
  • Anger
  • Guilt – feeling responsible for the illness
  • Fear they may have to go to the hospital as well
  • Jealousy or resentment
  • Loneliness/Sadness
  • Embarrassment
  • Confusion

How a child reacts to their sibling’s hospitalization(s) can be impacted by:
  • His or her age
  • Length of the hospital stay
  • Nature of past experiences with hospitals
  • Severity of the medical condition
  • Length of time since diagnosis
  • Amount of time separated from parents and sibling
  • Nature of previous separations for parents/sibling
  • Quality of answers to questions about hospitalization
  • Amount of attention given to the child’s feelings

Some children may react to a sibling’s hospitalization by:
  • Eating or talking less
  • Exhibiting withdrawn behavior
  • Trying to draw more attention
  • Outbursts of stored-up feelings
  • Display regressive behavior (such as using security blanket, bedwetting, thumb sucking, tantrums, etc)
  • Nightmares or anxiety
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