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Mended Little HeartGuide

Diagnosis 3 In The What About Siblings? If you have other children besides your child with CHD, you may worry about how their sibling’s heart condition will affect them. If their brother or sister’s heart defect is severe and requires surgeries, hospitalizations or special services, they will feel an impact. The good news is that most of these kids do just as well — sometimes even better — than their peers. They may show more independence, maturity, understanding, compassion and tolerance than other children their age. Further, studies have shown that the siblings’ relationships with each other tends to be more nurturing and positive than that of typical siblings. Even though they will likely adjust well, you might still see some changes in behavior, particularly during times of stress. They need your ongoing support. Here are a few ways to provide that: • Keep them informed with truthful, ageappropriate information about their brother or sister’s health. (For age-appropriate information, please talk to a social worker or child life specialist.) Kids know when you are hiding something, which can make them even more scared. Ask if they have questions and check for misunderstandings. • Involve siblings in their brother or sister’s care. They will feel more in control if they can help in some way. • Provide them with opportunities to talk about their worries, feelings, questions and themselves. If needed, get help from a counselor or someone who can help them open up about their concerns. Sometimes, smaller children can express feelings through art or play. • Form connections with other families so that your children can meet other kids with CHD and their siblings. PLAY VIDEO What About Siblings? • Try to treat your children fairly and equally. Sometimes we have very high expectations of our healthier children and don’t have the same expectations of our child with CHD. Rewards, punishments and expectations should be as equal as possible. • When you can, give your healthy children some solo time and your undivided attention. Schedule one-on-one time on your calendar — even if it is just playing a game for 10 minutes. • If you see signs of serious depression, violent behavior or excessive anger in your child, seek help immediately. The Toughest Question Sometimes, particularly when a surgery is coming up, a sibling will ask if their brother or sister is going to die. This is a devastatingly painful question for a parent or caregiver to answer, particularly when the same question is going through our own minds. Answer as honestly as possible, but focus on positive aspects. You might, for example, say, “The truth is, we really don’t know the answer to that. We certainly hope not. What we do know is that the doctors and nurses are going to do everything they can to make your brother or sister’s heart work the best it can. They are very good at what they do and are going to do their best.” 1 General Information 2 Prenatal Hospital 4 Living With CHD 5 Forms 67


Mended Little HeartGuide
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