4 Ways to Talk to Kids About Their Cancer Diagnosis


School-age kids so often look to their parents for help making sense of the world and the events in their lives.

That’s why it’s so important that parents create a dialogue built on trust and empowerment when discussing a childhood cancer diagnosis.


1. Communicate Clearly

When talking to your child about their cancer diagnosis, it’s important to use language appropriate for their age. Use words your child understands, but don’t oversimplify it in a way that could cause them to feel uncertain about their diagnosis or left out of the conversation.

2. Acknowledge Emotions

Emotions are one way we process stressful news and events. Children should be encouraged to name and express the emotions brought on by their childhood cancer diagnosis in a safe and caring environment. Creative tools such as writing, drawing or collage-making provides children with a way to express their feelings in self-reflective way.

Use clear and honest language to give your child the information they need to understand what’s happening in their body and their treatment plan.

3. Offer a Safe Space

Sometimes children can ignore or suppress difficult emotions due to fear of how others may react. It’s important to create an environment of trust, love and support for children with a cancer diagnosis so they will feel free to express negative emotions such as fear and anger. Listen carefully to their fears and include them in discussions about the diagnosis and treatment to give them a sense of empowerment.

4. Reach Out

Receiving a childhood cancer diagnosis can leave children and their families feeling isolated or singled-out from the rest of the world. It’s important to maintain strong ties with a child’s teacher and class, friends and relatives or other members of the family’s community. Members of the pediatric cancer team are also available to offer advice.