Impact on a child

Changes in the child’s home life may have a massive impact on the child and what they ‘bring’ to school each day. For some children there is a huge change within their home lives, it may be emotional, practical, or both.

For some children school work, including homework,may not always be a priority as they are preoccupied with what is going on at home.

Extra chores

Making meals, washing up, cleaning, shopping, laundry

Extra responsibilities

Looking after siblings, looking after grandparents, emotional support to family members, helping with banking, benefits, interpreting/translating for a parent if limited English is spoken.

Changes in childcare

Different adults dropping them off at school, being at home alone, staying in different houses, different meals eaten, and different beds slept in.

Changes in emotional states

Feeling ignored, being shouted at, adults taking out their stress on their children.

Chaotic home life

Family roles reversing, lack of structure, no discipline, clean clothes not available, and meals not cooked.

Every child is different

Children deal with the news that their parent has cancer in different ways. Their age, emotional maturity, their coping style, the relationship with their parent, and their understanding of cancer are all contributing factors in how they will behave and feel.

Many children act out at home and are well behaved at school, for others it is the reverse. Some children view school as a sanctuary, a place where not everything revolves around cancer, so they may not want people to talk, or even know, about it. Some children are not willing to talk about how they feel, but they will express these feelings through their behaviours.

For some children school work, including homework, may not always be a priority as they are preoccupied with what is going on at home.

Away from school, a child may be:

  • acting as a carer
  • visiting the hospital
  • looking after their siblings
  • taking on household chores.

Find out what changes to look out for in a child that’s affected by a parent’s cancer.