It is never easy to talk about cancer and much less with a child. Whether you are helping your child cope with hearing about a friend or family member being diagnosed with cancer, keep these five tips in mind.
- Be Honest and speak in a language the child can understand (no secrecy and no alarmist remarks". It is okay to say "I don't know."
- Let them ask questions and answer them as accurately as possible. Consider their age and experience with cancer.
- Let them know that cancer is not contagious and that no one did anything wrong. Many young children will need reassurance of this.
- Ask them what they know and be prepared to listen. Be prepared to discuss death with them.
- Help the child understand side effects of cancer and what to expect as "normal" throughout this process.
This is a difficult topic to manage but also an important one that cannot be ignored. Keeping a normal routine, open communication, being patient and honest with your child will help reduce any fear and/or anxiety your child may be experiencing, and will help reassure them that they are loved and cared for.
For more information contact: Christina Guerrero, MSW @ 509-670-6627
Helpful online resources are the American Cancer Society or cancer.net