Helping Children When A Family Member Has Cancer: Dealing With Treatment

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Should children visit the hospital or clinic?

Generally it’s a good idea to take your child to the doctor’s office or clinic at some point. Children under 13 are not always allowed, so plan this kind of visit in advance. Ask your nurse or social worker, if they might be able to schedule extra time with your child to explain what they see and answer any questions. Having your child see where you go and what happens there helps clear up the mystery.

Children often feel reassured when they see what treatment is really like and that you get through it without problems. Try to schedule your child’s visit on a day when you know what the visit will be like. For example, it might be best not to have your child with you when you need to get chemo or have blood drawn, but it might be OK for them to go with you to a regular doctor check-up visit.

Visits to a hospital unit may scare children more than outpatient visits, since people are often sicker when they’re in the hospital. Again, find out about age restrictions before making this offer to your kids. It’s best to plan this type of visit when the parent feels up to it and can talk and laugh with the child in a normal way. And, you might want to plan an activity for the child and parent to do together so that the child sees the visit as a happy one. It’s helpful to have someone there to explain the strange-looking equipment or any procedures. The staff can help children feel safe and confident about the people who provide most of their parent’s care.

Last Medical Review: 01/29/2015
Last Revised: 04/27/2015