What to Tell your Kids when you have Cancer.
HELPING THE CHILDREN TO UNDERSTAND
How can you communicate with your child? Is your child's reactions "normal"? Should you seek help? These are but some of the questions which go through the minds of a parent who has been diagnosed with cancer. Children will have questions and fears, and will sometimes show their emotions through a change in behavior. Whether at home, at school, or at play. It is natural to want to protect your child against the fears associated with the diagnosis of a brain tumor. It is better to adapt behaviors to help the children cope with the situation. Following are some suggestions:
· Be honest and open when talking with your child.
· Provide correct information about the disease, but in "small doses"
· Make sure that the child knows that he or she did not cause the cancer. Children can often feel this, even though they don't say anything.
· Tell the child that the cancer is not contagious. That other family members will not be afflicted.
· Questions can come at unexpected times and occassionally be painful. Expect the unexpected.
· Anticipate some changes in behavior. The child may act out in fear or anger. School performance may become better or worse.
· Try to keep the child's life as normal as possible. Designate an alternate caregiver.
· Keep the child in his home as much as possible. Encourage extracurricular activities
· Communicate with teachers and guidance counselors. Be sure they know of the situation at home, in order to help the child at school.
· It is usually ok to have the child visit the parent at the hospital. He may fantacize about what the treatment is like. Prepare the child for what he will see before the visit. They may be reassured by seeing where the parent goes for treatment.
If you have concerns about your child's ability to cope, contact a social worker or counselor to help you.
ADVICE TO THE CAREGIVER
Taking care of the caregiver is crucial!! Following are some helpful "Do's" and "Don'ts".
DO: *Listen carefully to each others feelings *Create "windows of time" for yourself, to get away from the responsibility. Some suggestions include taking a walk; soaking in a hot tub, or just napping! *Seek help through couseling, or a minister, priest, or rabbi *Learn deep breathing and relaxation excercises. They don't take much time! Information can be obtained at your local library. *Talk about your feelings and fears
DO NOT: *Hold your feelings inside *Do not blame yourself for your feelings of anger, anxiety or fear. *Feel quilty if you need a break!
Hope the above helps! Remember, silence is not "golden". Sharing feelings helps to relieve stress. Hiding your thoughts can only lead to more stress!
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