How can I help my child cope with my cancer?

In addition to educating children about your cancer and keeping a normal routine, there are some things you can do to help your son or daughter cope.

For younger kids, attention and affection can go a long way. Children are still pretty self-centered until they reach school age, so you may be surprised what lots of hugs, a favorite treat or even a small gift can do to cheer them up. When they're feeling sad, try to talk to them in plain, matter-of-fact terms and let them know that they're not alone in this experience.

Children between the ages of five and nine should be encouraged to ask questions and express themselves. They're at an age when the situation may not be clear but they try to fill in the blanks on their own, potentially leading to scary results. Additionally, kids this age may be helped by seeing a movie or hearing a story about someone who is sick to encourage them to express their feelings.

Preteens and teenagers, already struggling with their desire to become more independent, may feel hampered by a need to remain close to their sick parent. You can balance this by both giving them space and making yourself available to either talk or simply spend some quiet quality time with them.

Support groups can help kids and adults deal with illness, so ask your healthcare provider for recommendations or do an Internet search for organizations in your area.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.