Edit ModuleShow Tags

Talking to Kids About Cancer

5 things to keep in mind


Published:

What do you say to a child when it comes to the tricky—and emotional—topic of cancer?

How much does a 5-year-old—or a 15-year-old—need to know about a family member’s diagnosis? Exactly what words, phrases, or terms are best to use?

There’s certainly no “correct” way to approach a subject that carries such uncertainty and fear that many adults don’t know how to handle it themselves, but I’ve arrived at five general guidelines.

1. A child’s age will determine exactly how much information to share. Little ones, 3–5 years old, are able to handle only a fraction of the information that a teenager can, so set aside time to talk with each individual child about a diagnosis, taking into consideration each child’s cognitive ability.

2. Kids need to know the facts. No matter what age, children should be told four things: 1. the name of the cancer; 2. the part of the body affected; 3. how the
cancer will be treated; 4. how their lives will be affected. 

3. The language we use carries a ton of weight. Only using the word “sick” might make children think that they can catch cancer. For this reason, it is important to use the words “disease” and “cancer” along with whatever other words your child can handle.

4. Children need constant support and time for processing. Kids need to know that the cancer is not their fault. They need to know that they will be taken care of during this challenging time and always. Repeat these facts with clarity and frequency. 

5. There’s a wealth of information out there—find it and use it. Books, coloring pages, pamphlets, and websites can help cancer become a familiar topic in your family (understanding that everything needs to be done in moderation). Local support groups, school counselors, and trained social service professionals can provide resources they need. There’s no reason to walk this road alone. 

Find Amy over at teachmama.com and  weteachgroup.com.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

Halloween Candy Buy Back in NJ

Do the kids collect more candy than they could ever eat (or, that you’d want them to eat)? Put all that extra loot to good use this year by donating it to a dental office and help the less fortunate in the process.

Should You Buy Gluten-Free?

This new study has the facts.

Your Teen and HPV

Getting the vaccine now can thwart HPV-related cancers later.

Is Your Teen At Risk for an Eating Disorder?

How to protect your teen from EDs amid the stress of adolescence.

The Cancer Conversation We All Need to Have

A New Jersey mom battling breast cancer is helping answer the many questions that come with a diagnosis.

Add your comment:
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sign Up for Our Newsletter!

Consider your weekends planned!
Get the best NJ events, festivals, concerts and activities for families delivered straight to your inbox. 


Edit ModuleShow Tags

   

Edit ModuleShow Tags