How To Talk To Children About Cancer

Cancer, especially in advanced stage, when faced by a close relative of a child, can lead to a dilemma, as to whether the child should be told about it or not. At times, it may be preferable to let the child know about it. It is important, however, to do it in a manner that does not result in a mental scar for the child.
How to Talk To Children about Cancer
Source - Wikimedia Commons (

Cancer is a big challenge. An additional challenge is often posed when a person close to a child has cancer and the child needs to be told about it. It is a sensitive matter to be approached with a sensitive yet honest manner, helping the child to gain a realistic perspective and deal with it, without hurting the psyche.


Children are like Very Sensitive Adults

Children today are mini-adults loaded with high sensitivity. Their extreme innocence makes them vulnerable, but also gives them a lot of unexpected strength! For a child, anything that she comes to know is a revelation, and anything

that is told as a normal usual thing will be treated just like that.

Talking to children about most things in life can be challenging at times. Talking about cancer is no different. What may constraint a person from talking a thing like cancer to them is that in case of a child, ignorance can be a matter of bliss! Depriving a child of this bliss may not always appear to be the right thing to do, and thus most of us may not be very willing to discuss something like cancer with them unless we are faced with a situation where there is no other alternative.

Children Need to Know!

Even though cancer, diseases and death are not exactly the kind of subjects we would want to discuss with a child, there are situations when letting the child know about it may be preferable. In particular, children need to be told about cancer when someone close to them is suffering from it, especially if the condition is critical or the chances of cure appear slim. One of the reasons they need to know is to understand the situation of that person. Not knowing it can make things that are going around a little strange to them, and it here that taking them into confidence and letting them know about it, even if they may not be able to fully appreciate its implications, maybe a better choice. At the least, it prepares them for worse times.

What is important, however, is the manner in which the subject is brought up with them. When the person suffering from cancer is a parent, it would be appropriate if one of the parents only talks to them about the seriousness of the situation. In such cases, however, the emphasis has to be on the person suffering from it rather than

on an objective explanation about cancer, as children are more likely to be concerned about the fate of their family rather than being interested in the disease itself.

Often, the curiosity of the child is aroused by the discussion being held around her, or by seeing a patient of cancer within the family. If the person having cancer is not very close to the children, then a more objective manner of explaining things can be adopted. However, one must remember that the seemingly innocuous descriptions can have a lasting impression on a child which may affect her psychological outlook.

Avoid Scary Descriptions

When I was a child, I saw a movie wherein big sized spiders were shown as evil creatures, and for many years, it continued to have an effect on my feelings about spiders. Similar impact can be there in any child. A scary description of cancer can result in a mental scar where everything related to cancer may create a scare for the child, and it may have an adverse impact on her psychological development.

It is also a good idea to use the opportunity of talking about cancer for educating them about the factors that promote cancer, like smoking. Educating a sensitive child about the hazards of smoking, pollution and chemicals can have a long term impact.

Let the Affected Person Talk

In case of affliction of someone very close, it may not be a bad idea if the person can himself talk to the child. If he can explain things to her with a smile, it can reduce the negative impacts on her psyche and that may also give the child a lot of strength to face the inevitable. It is important to remain positive. Even if the medical condition is beyond redemption and there is very little chance of cure or survival, it would be better to focus on the present and behave normally and make the best use of the time at hand. It will be the best thing for the person suffering cancer as well as the best way of preparing the child for the impending loss.


Please login to comment on this post.
There are no comments yet.
How To Protect Your Social Security Number In United States
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program In United States