As parents, we always want our children to be healthy and happy. Adding cancer into the mix means there’s a whole lot of extra pressure on your child’s mental and emotional wellbeing – whether they’re watching a brother or sister go through treatment, or they’re the one being treated. It can be hard to find the right time or the right words to ask them how they are doing, especially when they might be struggling with some big emotions.
Redkite’s team of social workers are experts in child counselling and have some suggestions that may help you connect.
1) Put your child at ease
Find a comfortable place where your child feels calm, comfortable and likes to talk. Often children choose to share things during an activity, so you might like to try chatting to them during a favourite game or hobby. This could be Lego, playdough, basketball or colouring in – anything that your child loves doing, to put them at ease and in the right frame of mind to share their thoughts and feelings.
2) Listen with your ears and your eyes
Children share what is going on for them through their behaviour as much as their words. Look for their body language and other non-verbal signs. Don’t try to fix everything for your child – sometimes listening is all they need.
3) Let others help
Remember that it is ok to ask for help from others to check in with your child. Some children may be more at ease sharing what’s going on with an aunt, a grandparent, a teacher or a counsellor. Redkite is here to help too. We provide free counselling for children up to 18 years.
4) Regular check-ins
Things can change quickly for children, so it is important to keep in touch frequently. They may not tell you much every time you try, so if they don’t feel like expressing themselves, check-in again another time.
5) Make time – even if it’s a bad time
Most importantly, be open to responding to children when they come to you with something important, even if it’s an inconvenient time. Your child has been brave enough to share what is really going on for them, so don’t let this chance pass you by.
Redkite provides counselling for children aged 0-18 years who have been affected by cancer. This includes the diagnosed child, their brothers and sisters, friends and relatives. We also help provide music therapy on-ward in most children’s hospitals Australia-wide.