Support for Children & Teens

If you are a parent of young children and you or someone close to you have been diagnosed with cancer one of the first questions you may have is what to tell the children?

Many parents are afraid to tell their children that cancer has come into the family because they are afraid of upsetting them.  Children are very sensitive to what is happening around them and can sense that something is wrong.  Children also have very active imaginations.  Not telling the children leaves them to imagine situations that are often worse than things really are.  Young children may also believe that something they have done has caused the problem.   When children sense that something is wrong not being able to talk about it can leave them feeling isolated and alone, sad and worried.  Although telling your children about a cancer diagnosis is hard, it is important and necessary. Here are some helpful tips for talking with children:
  • Be honest in answering their questions
  • Use simple language that your child can understand
  • Don’t be afraid to use the word cancer
  • Let children know it is ok to feel whatever they are feeling: sad, mad, scared, confused  
  • Let them know about expected changes in their routines
  • Let them know about any expected change in your appearance or behavior (hair loss, fatigue)
  • Don’t force information on them but answer questions as they come up
  • It is OK to share your feeling with your children
  • It is also OK to let them see you cry
  • Give them small age appropriate jobs so that they feel involved

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