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602 c sylvester tiny boat handout


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602 c sylvester tiny boat handout

  1. 1. Tender Living Care Supporting Families with Serious Illness from the Point of Diagnosis More about Helping Children (Based on excerpts from A Tiny Boat at Sea by Izetta Smith) Things you should know: ◊ Children are resilient – they can make their way through hard times ◊ Each child has a powerful drive to figure out how to be okay ◊ Each child has his/her own unique way of figuring out how to be okay ◊ You can help your child by giving honest information, acceptance and caring Three Tasks Facing Children when a family member is diagnosed with a life threatening illness: Children want to understand what has happened – This is a thinking task Tell the truth as soon as possible, as this builds trust If you don’t tell the children they will make guesses or play detective which may have them imagining something more scary than the truth Match the information to the child’s maturity level Pick a time and place that is comfortable and preferable - not just before bedtime Children want to express how they feel about what is happening – This is a feeling task It is normal for children to feel sad, mad and scared Adults cry There is less time than money Routines change Physical appearance may change All of the above are normal changes when someone is diagnosed with an illness Children often show their feelings through art and play “Listen” to your child’s play and take time to have fun with her or him Children may show their feelings through different behaviors Some may withdraw or regress – help by drawing the child out and offering small challenges at which they can succeed Some become combative and act out – help by creating safe ways to express big energy of feelings, e.g. sports, gross motor activities, hitting pillows Some overachieve or begin to act overly mature – help by encouraging them to do childlike activities, giving praise for silliness, encouraging self- acceptance Some ways of helping children express feelings: “Softly holding” while they are crying Create safe ways to express the big energy of feelings, e.g. sports, gross motor activity, hitting pillows
  2. 2. Make time for talk and questions – create regular talking times. Remember that children may express themselves in only two or three words and that’s ok. Share your own feelings as a model for children Play and draw with them Peer support groups for children Set up a telephone schedule with school personnel so the child can check in Keep the school informed as to what is happening at home Children want to continue to live fully in the present and open up to the future – This is a growing and doing task Children need to take breaks from dealing with the illness It helps to maintain their routines as much as possible Playing hard, laughing and temporarily losing awareness of the hard things in their life can help Created by Patricia Ellen Tender Living Care A Program Supporting Families with Serious Illness from the Point of Diagnosis The Center for Grieving Children 555 Forest Avenue Portland, Maine For more information call, e-mail or visit our Web site 775-5216 A Tiny Boat at Sea1 (excerpts) with TLC Logo 2