Cancer: how to tell children about this difficult ordeal ?

Cancer: how to tell children about this difficult ordeal ?

Cancer : comment l’annoncer aux enfants ?

Lors de l’annonce récente de son cancer, Kate Middleton a souligné le temps qu’elle a pris pour l’annoncer à ses trois enfants. Dire la vérité sur son état de santé à son enfant, une épreuve difficile mais nécessaire.

Cancer is an upheaval in the life of a family. For the patient, but also for the children. Often, in an effort to spare them, the patient will prefer to keep quiet about the reality of their condition. Is this really the right attitude to adopt ?

Children need to hear the truth. As the Swiss Cancer League points out, "they feel that something is wrong. They then tend to imagine distressing explanations (…) It is better to give information adapted to the child’s age rather than aggravate the situation by remaining silent."

Don't underestimate children

Parents generally underestimate children's ability to face the truth. Of course, if there is no universal recipe, the important thing is to tell the truth without necessarily giving all the details. "If you have several children, it may be better to inform them all together first", continues the Swiss Cancer League. "You can then talk about it again individually with each person, taking into account the age and temperament of the child.&quot ;

Adapt your speech

The announcement is an important moment:

favor calm, and if possible, do not hesitate to involve your partner; If your child is young, give them the necessary information using simple words : "I have a disease called cancer (use that word). Maybe I will have to go to the hospital for a few days but you can come and see me. But don’t overwhelm him with details; avoid mentioning what you don't know. Speak in the present tense; reassure him by explaining that it is not his fault; encourage him to express his feelings or ask questions.

If your child is a teenager…

Don't forget that teenagers (via their friends, the media, social networks…) are often informed about cancer. They can therefore be well informed on the subject. You will therefore be able to mention your diagnosis and treatments. They will also undoubtedly be distressed by the idea of ​​losing you. "Talk with them about your own thoughts about death, but also accept that your child may not want to talk about everything right away."

At the age of puberty, the announcement can also be manifested by a statement about oneself. Thus, "they ask few questions, may have more aggressive reactions than usual and lose interest in school& quot;, indicates the Swiss Cancer League. Which recommends "continue to establish rules and set limits, as before".

Finally, if you feel difficult to raise the subject or if your children's reaction worries you, do not hesitate to seek advice from your doctor, a psychologist or a child psychiatrist .

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