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Helping children cope with illness in the family

Helping children cope with illness in the family

Turning Point children's programs offer children and families affected by a serious illness, such as cancer, the opportunity to develop positive coping strategies through unique, skill-based, developmentally appropriate experiences. Programs are conducted through workshops, camps, and six-week groups at NO COST to the families. Please call or visit our website for more information. The mission of Turning Point is to enhance the lives of individuals, families and friends living with cancer and other serious or chronic illness through innovative education and support services that complement medical care. Turning Point's programs for parents and children are designed specifically to help the entire family live well with the stress and change brought about by a family member's serious or chronic illness. Many families experience emotional, social and physical distress when a loved one is diagnosed with a serious or chronic illness. Children are especially vulnerable as their routines and sense of their world are turned upside down. In most cases, children are very aware when stress and change impact a family. Honest, accurate, and age-appropriate communication will be your best guides as you discuss your health with children. Creating an ongoing dialogue and a safe outlet for their emotions can assist your child's ability to cope and grow through difficult times.

The following suggestions may help children cope with illness in the family:

  • Tell your child the truth. When they are included, children have the best chance to cope and regain a sense of stability. Tell them the name of your disease and your best understanding of what may happen.
  • Let children know what you are doing to treat your illness and what the potential side effects are.
  • Be sure that your child knows the seriousness of your illness. Children often imagine the worst and not talking about the possibility of death can cause a great deal of fear and anxiety.
  • Make sure that your child knows that they did nothing to cause your illness and that they cannot "catch" your illness.
  • Encourage children to ask questions.
  • Find and use extra support from extended family, neighbors and friends.
  • Remind your child that all feelings are OK and that it is important to express them.
  • Help your child find appropriate ways to express anger.
  • Try to keep family routines as normal as possible.
  • Reassure your child that they will be cared for no matter what.
  • Express your own emotions in front of your child. It models for them that it is ok to feel different things.
  • Keep your child's school and teacher informed of what is going on in the family.
  • Let your child know it is not their job to make you feel better.
  • Reassure children that it is still ok to have fun.
  • Look for changes in behavior, like sleep or eating disturbances or developmental trouble. These can be important warning signs that your child needs help.

Turning Point Programs for Children and Parents:

Step by Step: (4-6 year olds) & Fork in the Road: (7-12 year olds). In a group setting, your child uses fun, age-appropriate activities in music, art, and play to learn how to communicate feelings about an adult family member's illness.

Crossroads: (13-18 year olds) In a supportive group setting, teens create a video that expresses what it is like to have an adult family member facing illness.

My Time: A relaxing support program for parents that is held concurrently while the children are in session.

Teen Transitions Project: Helping teens with a serious or chronic illness navigate life's many transitions - from typical adolescent issues to changing health care providers.

Camp Courage: a 3 day camp, held in conjunction with Children Mercy Hospital, for children ages 6-14 diagnosed with Sickle Cell Disease.

Camp Compass: a nature based day camp for children with a sibling diagnosed with a serious illness.

Camp Horizons: (4-12) COMING SOON! A day camp for children whose families reside in Eastern Jackson County and who have an adult family member with a serious illness.

Call Turning Point at 913-383-8700 to enroll your child, receive more information, or schedule a tour!

Turning Point
8900 State Line Road, Suite 240
Shawnee Mission, KS 66206