Mahesh Memorial Trust

Ideas for reassuring your child during the cancer diagnosis and treatment

Remind your child that the cancer is not caused by anything he or she did. Neither the disease nor the treatment is punishment.

Be honest and realistic in your explanations of procedures and treatments. Let your child know about any changes in treatment.

Nobody, not even your child, expects you to know everything. Don't be afraid to say "I don't know." If your child has questions that you cannot answer, tell him or her that you'll try to find the answers.

Don't be afraid to ask your child questions. Asking children what they are thinking and feeling does not create new fears; it gives them the chance to express the fears they already have.

Tell your child that it is okay to feel sad and cry. This provides an outlet for emotions.

Set limits. During this period, your child may challenge the rules you've set. It's natural to let ill children "bend the rules," but this actually may make them more anxious. They may imagine that things are worse than they really are.

Let your child have some control as long as it does not harm his or her health or interfere with treatment. This allows your child to grow in spite of the needed restrictions.

Encourage activities to reduce anxiety. Drawing playing with medical supplies or puppets, and role-playing may help your child feelings. Therapeutic play with a social worker or psychologist can help young children better understand and adjust to their illness.

Encourage your child to talk about his her feelings. Frequent family talks can help reduce anxiety. Talking helps the whole family cope with this illness together.

Recognize that children, like adults, have good days and bad days.

Remember that the health care team is there to answer questions and give support to you and your family.

Children, especially those younger than age5, worry about being separated from their parents. Reassure your child that even though you have to leave, you love him or her and will return as soon as you can.

Help your child keep in touch with friends, family embers, and schoolmates while away from school. This tells your child that he or she is still a normal kid with friends, interests, and responsibilities.

Encourage your child to do homework and go back to school as soon as possible. If your child is unable to attend school, even for a short amount of time, you may be able to request a tutor or a teacher to come to your home. Encouraging your child to keep up with schoolwork, even at home, will send positive message.

Despite all that is going on, your child is the same person as before, with the same emotional needs as any other growing child. Take some time each day to love and enjoy each other as much as you can.