What they need

What children and young people need when someone is very ill:

  • clear, simple explanations that they can understand at their age
  • to be able to understand what is happening to them; what they are feeling, how their body is reacting
  • to be reassured and know that this isn’t their fault
  • to be able to understand and express their emotions appropraitly
  • to know what is happening to the people around them and understand how they are reacting
  • to be able to continue with normal routines and activities
  • someone to listen to their questions and worries and give good answers

More information :

www.hertschs.nhs.uk Good Grief: What will we tell the kids?

www.hertschs.nhs.uk  Jack the FearBuster

Living through a serious illness

Some people are ill for a long time, some recover and sadly some people die ,however during the weeks and months when someone is receiving treatment children and young people can become very anxious, have low mood, have difficulties concentrating on their school.

The illness can mean that many things in the family have to change and that the person who is ill changes because of the illness or treatment making them look and behave very differently. This can feel shocking and scary for children and young people.

All of the tips above will make this difficult time feel more manageable for them and it is important that they have someone to talk to about the normal and natural thoughts that disturb them or  how the illness is affecting  their relationship with the person who is ill.

Sometimes it can be tempting to feel that it is better for them to talk to someone outside the family about this. Many schools and colleges have counsellors and support workers who can do this but it is better if they can talk to family members close to them and be reassured. See our leaflets page for more help

Things that can help families talk about what is happening:

  • encourage them to ask questions- tell them that if you don’t know you will find out. Try not to make up explantions if you are not sure.
  • let them know that it natural to cry at this time and they are not making it worse for you by asking
  • have a ‘worry’ wall or post box so they can write their thoughts and worries to let you know  what is bothering them on a regular basis
  • set aside a time of day/week to talk about what is happening so they don’t need to keep worrying about what might be happening
  • let them know who you have who is helping you
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