Resources for Talking to Kids about Cancer

Dealing with a parent’s or other loved one’s cancer diagnosis can be really hard on kids as well as challenging for the adults who need to explain what’s going on. Read more about my experience here. These resources will be updated regularly.

Guidelines for Talking to Kids about Cancer

There is no “best” way to have a difficult conversation. Here are a few ways to help talk about this difficult topic with your kids:

  • Think before you talk – It’s easier to be calm and composed when you know what you are going to say. If you need to, write it out on a piece of paper. This will allow you to focus o your child rather than on what you are going to say next.
  • Pick your time and place carefully – The carpool line after school probably isn’t the greatest place to have this conversation. Look for a time and a place when you will have minimal interruptions and where you and your child feel safe and comfortable.
  • Keep it age-appropriate – Every kid is different and how much information that they can handle and digest will depend upon how old and how mature they are. It may be helpful to pre-read books and videos before showing them to your child to make sure that they will understand the information. Pay attention to your child’s attention span, too, as you don’t want to overload them.
  • Provide space– Kids are going to have questions and those questions might not show up right away. Given them space to think about what they’ve learned and an opportunity to come back with you with what they are wondering about. Encourage them to share what they are feeling, too.
  • Provide reassurance – A cancer diagnosis is tough to hear about. Provide your children with love and warmth and help them understand the changes that might be happening.

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