It can be difficult for kids to fully understand or handle the situation when someone in the family is sick and needs medical help to try and help them recover.
Unfortunately, cancer visits many families and aside from the emotional trauma of contending with such a serious condition, there is also the prospect of endless visits to the hospital and the need to help provide some peace and quiet, all of which can be difficult for kids to cope with.
Here is a look at some ways to help kids deal with someone in their family getting sick. There is an overview of how to talk to your kids about the situation, making allowances for their age and expected emotional reactions, plus some tips on getting support outside of the family network.
We need to talk
There are many distressing and difficult scenarios that you might have to contend with when a close relative is diagnosed with cancer, and one of those challenges is what to say to the children and when to have that conversation with them.
Rather than just come right out with it at some unplanned opportunity, it is often a much better idea to plan what you intend to say to your kids in advance.
Working through the conversation in your mind and even discussing how to relay such traumatic information to a child with a health professional who understands the situation, can help you to deliver the news in the best way possible, considering the circumstances.
Keep it simple
The age of your children will obviously make a difference to how you talk to them about cancer and what is happening with a loved one, but the general suggestion is always to use simple language and give them ample opportunity to absorb the information.
It is often the case that you will need to repeat what you are saying several times and be prepared to answer any questions they come up with during the conversation.
Children will normally experience slightly different emotional reactions and school age children who have yet to hit their teens, are sometimes likely to experience feelings of guilt if it is one of their parents who is sick.
You will have to work on reassuring them that clearly, they bear no responsibility for what is happening.
It is worth mentioning the mandala coloring app by Apalon Apps which is an adult coloring book to help reduce stress. Suggest downloading apps like this that encourage mindfulness, as it could be a useful tool they could relate to when they are struggling with their emotions.
Keep their school in the loop
Dealing with cancer in the family is a deeply personal situation but it is important that if you have a child at school who is trying to cope with this problem at home, they know what is going on.
Their school can often be very helpful and understanding as they will be aware of how a family crisis can affect a child. They can make allowances for their performance and behavior, plus offer some extra support as and when they need it.
It is never going to be easy coping with cancer, but there are things you can do to help your kids cope with the situation as well as they can be expected to.
Sophie Horton is a whizz when it comes to keeping kids occupied. She is Auntie to 5 kids who range in age from 1 to 15. Her articles discuss looking after kids when they are away from home and keeping everyone happy.