Helping Children When a Family Member Has Cancer
When a person is diagnosed with cancer, the entire family, including the children, are also affected. Children may feel scared, anxious, angry, guilty, sad, or may feel that they are being left out. They may express their needs and feelings in various ways.
Most of these children will benefit from psychosocial support.
The following are some ways on how adults can provide support for children when a family member is diagnosed with cancer:
- Giving age-appropriate information about the disease may help to increase the child's feelings of security and feelings of being included.
- Encourage children to have some interaction with the patient. A child can connect with a patient through creating handicrafts and gifting these labours of love to the patient. Another way to communicate is through recorded videos, voice messages, cards or letters. If the child is too young to write, you may ask others to help.
- Be mindful in managing the child’s expectations.
- When possible, arrange for other adults, such as the other parent or close relatives, to spend time regularly with the child. This helps the child to feel loved and cared for.
- Inform the school and the school counsellor, about the patient’s condition and how the child is related to the patient. The counsellor and teachers in the school will be able to support the child and provide an avenue of comfort.