Supporting Children and Grandchildren
When You Have Cancer
Dana Nolan MS, LMHC, NCC
Licensed Mental Health Counselor
The Times They Are a-Changin’
Historical perspective:
Paternalistic
What experts in child
psychology now know
Resources...
Basics of Supporting Children
Honest, timely and ongoing
communication
Age-appropriate information and support
Minimize...
Education and Communication
The hardest part…
Why does this part scare
parents and grandparents
so much?
Age-appropriat...
Basics of Educating Children About Cancer
Children Under age 2:
Can’t understand concept of cancer
Distressed by disrup...
Basics of Educating Children About Cancer
(con’t.)
Children ages 7-12:
Able to understand more about causes and effects ...
Pictures and Hands-On
When explaining treatment information to children,
pictures/illustrations or a tour of the treatmen...
(800) 615-2270
Timing and Setting of Communication
Remember your own
experience first learning about
your diagnosis
The younger the chi...
Communication During and After
Treatment
Children’s thoughts/feelings change
just as ours do throughout the cancer
experi...
Minimize Changes to Daily Routine
Try to keep children's school and activity schedules as
normal as possible. It keeps th...
Share the Care
“Let me know if there is anything I can do…”
Transport children to school/activities
Organize play dates...
Children Coping as Individuals
Quiet children can become more silent
Lively children can become more active
Anxious chi...
When Do We Need Extra Help?
Children’s (and teenager’s)
behaviors are better indicators than
their words
“You seem (sad,...
Resources Available for Supporting
Children
Counseling
Tour of a Facility
See resource list for
books, websites and
org...
Books/Websites That Help
“My Daddy’s Cancer: An interactive book for children”
by C. Cohen
“What IS Cancer anyway? Explain...
Contact Information
1-800-615-2270
(800) 615-2270
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The Mesothelioma Center's July Support Group - Talking to Children About Mesothelioma

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Being open and honest about your mesothelioma diagnosis with your children or grandchildren helps them better understand and adjust to the changes. We will discuss the best ways to educate and support children when a loved one has this disease. For more information or to sign up for the support group, visit us at www.asbestos.com

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The Mesothelioma Center's July Support Group - Talking to Children About Mesothelioma

  1. 1. Supporting Children and Grandchildren When You Have Cancer Dana Nolan MS, LMHC, NCC Licensed Mental Health Counselor
  2. 2. The Times They Are a-Changin’ Historical perspective: Paternalistic What experts in child psychology now know Resources available (800) 615-2270
  3. 3. Basics of Supporting Children Honest, timely and ongoing communication Age-appropriate information and support Minimize changes to daily family routine Share the responsibility of providing support Allow children to cope as individuals Involve children in treatment activities (800) 615-2270
  4. 4. Education and Communication The hardest part… Why does this part scare parents and grandparents so much? Age-appropriate knowledge is protective Trust-building (800) 615-2270
  5. 5. Basics of Educating Children About Cancer Children Under age 2: Can’t understand concept of cancer Distressed by disruption of routine Separation/attachment issues Children ages 2-7: Use simple terms like “good” and “bad” cells Reassure children their behavior did not cause the cancer and that disease isn’t contagious Explain treatment in terms of how it will affect them and their routine (800) 615-2270
  6. 6. Basics of Educating Children About Cancer (con’t.) Children ages 7-12: Able to understand more about causes and effects of serious illness, but keep explanations simple Children ages 12+: Capable of abstract thought Can understand more in depth explanations May want to know details and research on their own (800) 615-2270
  7. 7. Pictures and Hands-On When explaining treatment information to children, pictures/illustrations or a tour of the treatment facility will help them understand. For younger children, drawing pictures (draw granddad with no hair) helps them to express their thoughts/feelings about the situation. If they are interested in seeing medication port, radiation treatment site, scars, feeding tube – let them. But don’t push. (800) 615-2270
  8. 8. (800) 615-2270
  9. 9. Timing and Setting of Communication Remember your own experience first learning about your diagnosis The younger the child, the shorter the talk Don’t just communicate facts of cancer, add emotions and thoughts (800) 615-2270
  10. 10. Communication During and After Treatment Children’s thoughts/feelings change just as ours do throughout the cancer experience Normalize thoughts and feelings of sadness, anger, joy, fear and frustration Continually offer children of all ages opportunity to talk or ask questions. They will eventually take you up on it! (800) 615-2270
  11. 11. Minimize Changes to Daily Routine Try to keep children's school and activity schedules as normal as possible. It keeps them balanced Let teacher know that child has a family member with cancer Chores/responsibilities/consequences still apply (800) 615-2270
  12. 12. Share the Care “Let me know if there is anything I can do…” Transport children to school/activities Organize play dates/sleepovers Meals brought to home Ask family members/friends to offer children opportunity to talk/vent, but not pressure them to talk (800) 615-2270
  13. 13. Children Coping as Individuals Quiet children can become more silent Lively children can become more active Anxious children can become more restless, etc…. (800) 615-2270
  14. 14. When Do We Need Extra Help? Children’s (and teenager’s) behaviors are better indicators than their words “You seem (sad, worried, lonely, angry, etc.) lately…can you tell me what is going on?” It may not have to do with cancer (800) 615-2270
  15. 15. Resources Available for Supporting Children Counseling Tour of a Facility See resource list for books, websites and organizations that can help! (800) 615-2270
  16. 16. Books/Websites That Help “My Daddy’s Cancer: An interactive book for children” by C. Cohen “What IS Cancer anyway? Explaining cancer to children of all ages” by Barkley and Eve Series “Can I still kiss you?” by N. Russell “When a parent has cancer: A guide to caring for your children” by W. Halpern http://www.cancercare.org/publications/49- helping_children_understand_cancer_talking_to_your_kids_about_your _diagnosis (800) 615-2270
  17. 17. Contact Information 1-800-615-2270 (800) 615-2270

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