Helping your child to lead a normal and happy life

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Children (particularly younger children) live in the ‘here and now’, and will want to play and enjoy other activities as usual. This gives them a surprising natural resilience during a serious illness. Understanding a child's specific needs, sticking to normal routines, and providing boundaries, comfort and love are very important to help support this resilience.

Try to arrange for your child to live a normal and happy life during their treatment for cancer. Whenever they are well enough, encourage them to join in their normal activities, including going to school or day care. This will mean that they don’t miss out on as much school and that they spend time with their friends, which will give them a sense of their life going on as normal.

You might worry that going to school and playing with other children is risky for your child, and that they would be better off staying in hospital or at home. Be assured that the health professionals who are looking after your child will tell you what to look out for (such as signs of an infection), as well as commonsense strategies to help your child stay healthy while they are away from the hospital. It will be helpful if you pass this information on to your child’s teachers and carers.

Many hospitals run programs where health professionals provide age-specific education for teachers and carers. Most paediatric treatment centres also have an educational psychologist, counsellor or school liaison officer who can talk to your child’s school.

published: Sunday, 23 August, 2015