Coping with children’s needs

Like many adults, children may struggle with the way family life changes after a cancer diagnosis. They may worry about the future or find it difficult to understand why life can’t go back to the way it was before the cancer.

Talking to children about cancer can be difficult. Children’s reactions and needs will vary depending on their age. However, discussions that are handled sensitively and honestly can be reassuring for young people.

Communicating with children

  • Try to be as open and honest as possible.
  • Acknowledge the impact of cancer on your family. This is particularly important for teenagers. To find out about support to help teenagers cope with life after cancer, visit CanTeen.
  • Depending on the age and understanding of the children, talk to them about your fears, e.g. anxiety before a follow-up visit. This may encourage children to talk about their own fears.
  • Reassure your children that regular check-ups will help monitor the cancer.
  • Be open about how you feel, so the children understand if you’re not bouncing back.
  • Spend time together doing something they enjoy.
  • Explain any changes made to your family’s lifestyle, and let your children know if they are going to be permanent.
  • Call Cancer Council 13 11 20 or see Talking to kids about cancer.

Listen to our podcast on Explaining Cancer to Kids

This information was last reviewed in April 2018
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