How to Talk to Kids About Cancer

Here you can get information about How to Talk to Kids About Cancer. Cancer is something that everyone fears. A diagnosis isn’t welcome, but it’s particularly distressing when it’ll affect a parent, a grandparent, a sibling, or another beloved. How are you able to ask children and prepare them? While it’s tough, they need to know – just confirm that you pick the proper moment, explain in terms they will understand, and be open and honest on the topic.

To talk or not to talk

Families communicate in many various ways. Some parents know immediately that they’re going to tell their kids about their diagnosis at the earliest opportunity. Others know they’re going to eventually discuss the diagnosis with their children, but may delay until they need more information about the cancer and its treatment, or until the children are a bit older. Still others worry that they’re burdening their kids by including them in discussions.

Deciding what to do, and when, are often an important initiative

  • Your children, regardless of how young or old, will realize that something is wrong. If they do not know what it’s, they’ll imagine terrible possibilities that are even scarier than a cancer diagnosis.
  • If you do not ask your children, they’ll eventually learn of the diagnosis from others or by overhearing a conversation. If you’re the primary to share the news, they’re going to get a more accurate and hopeful picture.
  • You do not need to discuss everything all directly. Don’t talk beyond their span or level of understanding. Several conversations over time usually work better in talking with kids.
  • You’ll worry that you simply won’t be ready to answer all of your children’s questions. While many parents share this concern, the reality is that you simply do not have to understand everything to start this conversation. Once you are stumped by an issue, you would possibly say, “I do not know. That’s an honest question, and I’ll determine the solution for both of us.” In most cases, kids will readily accept this response, especially once you quickly revisit to them with an answer.

Take some time to prepare yourself

Prepare yourself by thinking about what you hope to convey to your children through your words and actions. It’s perfectly understandable if you discover this difficult. Lecture your children about your cancer could also be one among the hardest things you have ever had to try to. However, when parents give their children an opportunity to share their worries, they often feel a way of relief and are ready to move forward as a family in handling their situation.

You may want to share your ideas and feelings about telling your children before time together with your partner, someone from your health care team or faith community, a friend, therapist, or social worker. You’ll find it helpful to write down your most vital points, so you are able to concentrate on your kids and their reactions.

You don’t get to follow a script

Talk as naturally as possible, and invite your children to ask questions early . you’ll encourage them to inform you what they already know, what they might wish to know, and therefore the way they think your illness will affect them and the family. Remind them that it’s okay to ask you questions, which you’ll do your best to answer. As a result, you show them it’s possible to speak together about hard issues.

Anticipate how you would possibly answer your children as you talk together. It’s okay to be emotional; this is often tough stuff. You’ll find that once you do include them in your situation, your kids feel closer to you and have a far better understanding of their own thoughts and feelings.

Decide who you’d wish to be present

Do you and your partner both want to be there? If that’s not practical, are you able to communicate your partner’s support and point of view? Is there another adult you would like to include? Who would you wish to start and lead the discussion? Is it appropriate to speak to your children when they are all at once or individually (knowing that, counting on ages, siblings often share with each other)?

Pick some time carefully

Ideally, plan your conversation in order that you’ll spend as much time as required to answer your kids’ questions and to comfort them if they’re upset. Try to not begin this important discussion once you are tired, pressed for time, or feeling especially ill or discouraged.

Likewise, start this conversation when your children are well rested and freed from other commitments. But do not be surprised or upset if many of those conversations are quite short. If your children show signs that they need had enough, bring your conversation to an in depth and return thereto later.

Children may have different approaches, counting on their age

To a large extent, what you say and the way you say it’ll depend upon your kids’ ages and capabilities. If your family includes children of various ages, you’ll plan to ask them individually or in pairs instead of as a gaggle. During this way, you’ll tailor what you tell their ability to know it.


Children these young don’t need tons of details. They’re very concrete and can tend to specialize in the cancer symptoms or side effects that they will see, like hair loss, instead of on what’s happening invisibly inside your body. Use a doll, stuffed animal, or picture to point out to your children where the cancer is found in your body. Make it clear that cancer isn’t contagious, which your kids cannot “catch” it from you.

Ask your children if they need questions about what is going to happen now that you simply have cancer. Answer only what they ask. Use simple, direct words. Attention spans at this age are short, so keep conversations brief, and be prepared to return to the discussion at once more.

School-aged children

You may find yourself using a sort of approaches with children in this group. With younger kids, you’ll get to keep the discussion brief, and use a stuffed animal, a doll, or a picture to assist your children understand, even as you’d with preschoolers. Be prepared for your children to travel off and play as if they’re unaffected by your news: kids of this age may react later, or may show their response through behaviour (being angry or quieter than usual) instead of words.

Older elementary school children could also be conversant in the basics of the human body, so use their knowledge as a start line for your conversation. As an example, if your children have already studied cells, you would possibly explain that cancer cells don’t behave in an equivalent way as normal cells. Provide more details, like the name of the cancer and therefore the basics of your treatment plan.

Emphasize that cancer isn’t contagious and that they didn’t do anything to cause your cancer. Kids of all ages, including teens, can worry about this, so offer many reassurances.


Teenage children have heard tons more about disease and cancer than their younger siblings. As a result, they’ll be quite worried, but afraid to upset you, or themselves, by asking questions. Take your cue from them whenever possible, and share the maximum amount information as they appear to require and are able to handle. And while they’ll appear on top of things as you talk together, be prepared for a few emotional response, either as your discussion continues, or at some later time. Your teen’s reactions may, in turn, trigger your own feelings, which can be tough on both of you. But try to not back away: within the end of the day , everyone will benefit if you’ll develop enough trust to share painful thoughts and feelings without fear about being judged or questioned.

Ideally, ask your children as soon as possible after you’re diagnosed

In this way, you, not your neighbors or your children’s friends, determine what your kids will realize your illness. You’ll also prevent their checking out by overhearing a conversation or being consoled by a concerned adult who doesn’t realize you haven’t mentioned your diagnosis.

Let your children know if you’ve got confided in others and what you’ve got told them. By sharing this together with your children, you help them realize that they do not need to face your illness alone, and should encourage them to speak about their concerns with trusted friends and relatives.

Provide your children with key information

  • “Mom (or dad) features a disease called cancer.”
  • Explain that cancer is really the overall name for several diseases during which cells that aren’t normal divide sooner than usual. These abnormal, quickly growing cells often become a tumor. Cancer also can spread to other parts of the body, but it’s not contagious: your children cannot “catch” cancer from you.
  • Talk with them about the causes of cancer. You would possibly start by asking how they think cancer gets started. You would possibly mention a number of the known behaviours that appear to extend an individual’s chances for getting cancer, like smoking or spending many times within the sun. You’ll also mean that we do not know all the causes of cancer, but experts are studying this question and arising with more answers all the time.
  • Let your kids know where the cancer is in your body, and the way you’ll be treated. Tell them if you’ll be within the hospital or faraway from home for extended periods of your time.
  • Counting on their ages, you would possibly also ask your children how they might wish to respond when others ask them questions on your health. This discussion also gives you an opportunity to see on what proportion your sons and daughters actually understand about your illness, and what issues you’ll get to clarify for them.
  • Inform older kids and teenagers that your illness will probably affect the family’s daily routines and responsibilities, and you’ll keep them posted as these changes occur.

Give your kids time to soak up the news

Over time, your children will hear you and absorb the important information, but they’ll not be ready to do that directly. Many children initially express their reactions through their behaviour instead of through words, so you’ll learn more about what they’re thinking and the way they’re feeling by observing changes in their play, mood, or friendships. As an example, your daughter who says little during your initial conversation may have trouble sleeping over subsequent several nights, otherwise your son may walk off wondering who goes to drive him to baseball league now that you’re sick.

Be patient, attempt to accept your kids’ reactions, and do not worry unless these reactions persist over time. “Stress warning signs in children” offers more information on deciding when your child could also be really battling the news of your diagnosis, and if he or she may have some additional support.

Don’t expect perfection

There is no “perfect” way to have this conversation. You’ll burst into tears before saying a word, or bite off your partner for telling your kids to “behave,” or cringe when your son makes light of the entire conversation. Forgive quickly. This is often a troublesome time for everybody.

Look at this as the first of many conversations

Your children might not have much to mention during your first conversation with them. Attempt to encourage them to ask you questions or tell you their worries, but don’t be concerned if you and your partner do most of the talking.

You and your sons and daughters may frequently revisit how and why people get cancer, what side effects mean (and don’t mean), and the way your illness will affect your and their lives. The important thing is that by including your kids in these discussions, you allow them to know you’re hospitable, hearing their questions and answering them honestly.

How to Talk to Kids About Cancer

Leave a Reply

Scroll to top