How to talk to a child who is affected

Taking time to talk with a child affected by parental cancer can be invaluable in establishing what they are experiencing outside of school, and how the school can support them.

Never force a child to talk about their parent’s illness – school may be a place where they don’t have to think about their parent’s cancer.

While maintaining a sense of normality is important for many children, making a few special adjustments for the child may be key to helping and supporting them through their challenging time.

Never force a child to talk about their parent’s illness – school may be a place where they don’t have to think about their parent’s cancer.

Possible discussion points

  • Whether the child wants to share their story with the class
  • Whether they want to tell their friends, letting them know how helpful this could be to them
  • How do they feel?
  • Assure them that their behaviour, or thoughts, has not caused the cancer nor will they catch cancer.
  • What changes are they experiencing at home (extra chores, different childcare etc)?
  • What expectations do you have for them at school regarding homework, or exams?
  • What words are used in the family when discussing the cancer (lump, or tumour for example)?
  • Agree with the child which staff members they would like to go to if they need to talk to someone
  • Ensure that they know who is available for them to speak to (school counsellor, CAMHS sign posting).