Siblings and school
Your other children may feel different about school when their sibling is ill. They may feel left out, or feel that other children are talking about them behind their backs. They may feel a loss of their own identity or feel overshadowed by their ill sibling.
Siblings may find it hard to concentrate on school and manage their feelings when they are worried about their brother or sister. They may worry about how their friends and classmates see or treat them. Some children find “normal” routines comforting. Focusing on school work can be a good distraction. There may also be times when it’s more important for them to miss school and be with your family at home, at the hospital, or at a special event.
The staff at your child’s school may not know how to support a child who has a seriously ill sibling. You can help by teaching them about what your ill child is going through, how the experience affects your other children, and what the school can do to help. It’s important to respect children’s wishes about what information is shared about them with staff. However, it is very important for school staff to know about:
- Your ill child’s health, including changes in your child’s condition
- Your child’s understanding of their sibling’s illness so that staff know how to answer questions or comments from other students and parents
- Your child’s feelings about their sibling’s illness and the effect on the family
- Ways to support your child if they feel worried or overwhelmed by their sibling’s illness
- Questions or topics that are difficult for your child to think about
- Kidsgrief.ca - Canadian Virtual Hospice