- Cancer Information
- Living well
- Living well after cancer
- Impact on family and friends
- Coping with children’s needs
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.
Dr Haryana Dhillon, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Medical Psychology & Evidence-based Decision-making, School of Psychology, University of Sydney, NSW; Polly Baldwin, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Jessica Barbon, Dietitian, Southern Adelaide Health Network, SA; Dr Anna Burger, Liaison Psychiatrist and Senior Staff Specialist, Psycho-oncology Clinic, Canberra Region Cancer Centre, ACT; Elizabeth Dillon, Social Worker, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Prof Paul Glare, Chair in Pain Medicineand Director, Pain Management Research Institute, University of Sydney, NSW; Nico le Kinnane, Nurse Coordinator, Gynaecology Services, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Amanda Piper, Manager, Australian Cancer Survivorship Centre, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Kyle Smith, Exercise Medicine Research Institute, Edith Cowan University, WA; Aaron Tan, Consumer; Dr Kate Webber, Medical Oncologist and Research Director, National Centre for Cancer Survivorship, NSW. We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title.
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