Preparing to talk to your loved ones
We will get into various tips about how to talk to family members of all ages about your cancer but, first, let’s establish how to prepare YOU before the discussion begins. Encourage good communication with your child and fill them in directly. Lack of communication could put them at risk for imagining the worst or even blaming themselves.
Typically, there are four main steps in openly communicating with your children about cancer:
- Write it down – Prepare what you want to say! Preparation can include writing down what you would like to say first, having a significant other present to make the setting more comfortable, or even prepare to have individual conversations with each child.
- Set the tone – Using a calm and reassuring voice will help your child cope better to the news. Expressing your emotions and even crying is OK and signals to your children that it’s OK for them to voice their emotions as well.
- Give them the option – If the conversation becomes too much for them always give them the option to take a break and continue the conversation later. Sometimes, children have a short attention span so it’s important to break up the information for them to fully understand the circumstances.
- Consider the age of the child – We’ll break it down for you so you can use necessary tools for each age. However, consider using vocabulary that your child is familiar with and understands. Every parent knows the maturity level of their child; use this as a guide to talk about certain information relevant to his/her age.