Talking to Children about Cancer
A lot of people are frightened to mention the word ‘cancer’ to kids. You might not know what things to say if someone significant to your kids has cancer.
If you or somebody else they love has cancer, it’s very important to talk to your kids soon following the diagnosis to build trust and to help them have an understanding of what’s happening. In case your kids know you will constantly tell them what is going on, they will feel less fearful. Children feel scared and alone when they’ve been told that “all is well,” because they know this isn’t true. They notice things like whispering, changes in meal schedules, crying, and changes in household activities. Children have vivid imaginations and the things they envision are worse than reality.
Assure your kids that you love them, and make sure to constantly have regular conversations in the days and weeks after diagnosis. Invite any questions they may ask and answer them honestly.
How to Describe what is Cancer
What you say about cancer will vary with respect to the age of your kids. With younger children, do not get overly technical. Let them know that cancer is a thing that grows in the body and is not supposed to be there. It is like weeds in the garden. There are lots of methods to get rid of weeds (weed killer, pulling, cutting) and there are lots of methods to treat cancer (pills, surgery, chemo, radiation).
Explain that at times you might be overly tired to snuggle or play. This really doesn’t mean they should be sad. It’s normal and natural to feel disappointed if your parent or grandparent is too exhausted to play.
If you are likely to experience hair loss, tell the kids before it happens. Clarify that side effects like nausea, hair loss, and fatigue, are signs that the treatment is working.
If your children ask if you’re going to die, don’t offer false assurances. Instead, react by saying, “I’ve great physicians who are doing everything they are able to in order to make me feel well. ” If your cancer is advanced, tell them you have great doctors who are doing their utmost to treat it. And that you will tell them how the treatment goes.
Tips for Helping Kids Manage
It’s okay to go with the kids to clinic visits if they would like to go. It helps some kids to find out where you are going to get well. Explain what’s happening to you. Consider giving a souvenir like surgical gloves or tongue depressors to younger kids.
If specific days, like chemo days, are worse than others, consider having a special basket of goodies/toys that just comes out on those days. You can also keep their minds engaged in certain things back at home or school, like capturing photos, while you are the hospital. Through the snapfish promo code, these can be made into a photobook so that they can share with you.
The important thing to helping your children cope with a cancer diagnosis is to speak to them openly and candidly. Enable them to know they always have the ability to come to you personally with questions or for support, and that you adore them enough to tell the truth to them.