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Misconception: They’re Laughing and Playing, So They’re Not Affected

Reality: Children have a hard time dealing with intense emotions for long stretches of time. So they may “puddle jump” from sadness to laughter and play, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t grieving. It’s a normal way for them to process what’s going on. It’s not disrespectful or naughty, it’s completely healthy.

Create a safe, open environment and to stay attuned to opportunities that arise for the child to ask you questions. Be sensitive to their comfort level, and encourage them to ask questions whenever they think of them. If they start a conversation they don’t want to pursue, it’s okay. Check in with them regularly, by asking how they are feeling, and clarifying any previous information you have shared with them. Children may not initiate conversations themselves, therefore it’s important to continually check in on their feelings and understanding. Open up opportunities to talk about cancer – but take the child’s lead on what you talk about and how much information they need.