Resources for families with young children:
Have Confidence in Yourself Resources
You will find your own way to communicate and provide support for your children during difficult times. Although you may not be able to fully protect them, you can help them learn the skills they need to effectively cope with life’s difficulties. Just do the best that you can.
Have Confidence in Your Child’s Ability to Understand and Cope
Believe in your child’s inner strength and resilience.
Take Your Time
Take some time to get a grip on your own emotions before talking to your children. This may help you communicate more effectively with them.
Get the Help You Need
Before you talk with your children, you may find it helpful to consult with family and friends. Or you may want to talk with a social worker, a clergy member, your pediatrician, and/or other parents in a similar situation.
You can postpone talking with your children until you feel prepared, but it probably is best not to put that first conversation off for very long. Children can tell when something is amiss. If you don’t begin talking, they will worry. So take a deep breath and begin talking.
Follow Your Child’s Lead
Invite your children’s questions. Do your best to answer these questions while keeping it simple and trying not to get ahead of your children’s age, stage of development, ability to comprehend, and need to know.
Illness is a process and, over time, opportunities will arise for ongoing discussions about living, illness, medical care, and dying. Use these opportunities to enable the members of your family to talk and reflect. Find ways to keep lines of communication open so that your children can ask their questions and express their feelings and concerns.
Find Adults Who Will Serve as Your Allies
Invite them to be your eyes and ears, letting you know if they have concerns about your children’s responses to uncertainty. Your allies might include teachers, coaches, and the parents of your children’s friends.
Anticipate Uncertainty and Find Ways to Cope With It
There may be many times when you simply don’t know what is going to happen to a loved one or to you. You may need to be able to say to your children, “I just don’t know.” Invite them to join you in your hopes for the future and help them go on living and loving despite the uncertainties.