3 Ways Siblings Can Help Kids With Congenital Heart Defects

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Oftentimes, siblings are eager to help when their brother or sister has a congenital heart defect. And there are actually many ways that they can do that—both directly and indirectly. 

How much responsibility to give them is something you’ll have to weigh based on their age, maturity, and abilities. But even young children can take part in caring for a heart kiddo.

Here are 3 ways siblings can help kids with congenital heart defects.

1. Watch Other Siblings.

Older siblings can keep an eye on their younger brothers and sisters. Depending on how much responsibility you feel they can handle, this might mean:

  • Babysitting younger siblings at home when you’re at the hospital with your heart child
  • Walking siblings down to the food court when the family is together at the hospital
  • Watching siblings at home—under your supervision—while you care for your heart kid    

2. Divide And Conquer Household Tasks.

There’s a lot to remember when a child has a congenital heart defect, including:

  • Which meds are taken—and when
  • When and where the next doctor appointment is
  • How his symptoms are progressing

Keeping an eye on all of these things is something that has to be done on top of everyday family responsibilities.

Draw up a family to-do list, then divide and conquer. Older siblings might be able to help with basic caregiving tasks. And younger children can help with simple chores like cleaning up toys.

3. Get Involved In Heart Kid Care.

There are lots of other ways kids can get directly involved in helping their sibling. For instance, they can:

  • Pack her clothes for an upcoming hospital stay
  • Distract and entertain her at the hospital
  • Plan a special homecoming party when she’s released from the hospital

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Sean Akers

Hi, I’m Dr. Sean Akers, and I’m a Licensed Clinical Pediatric Psychologist at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha. I serve as the primary psychologist for the heart transplant team as well as the coordinator of the Consult Liaison Service. My job is to provide heart kids and their families with support throughout their journey.

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