Reassure them often. Refer back to the four Cs mentioned in Unit 3. Did I CAUSE it? Can I CATCH it? Can I CURE it? Who will take CARE of me? Let them know repeatedly that cancer isn’t contagious. Tell them they definitely didn’t cause it, that being “good” won’t make mom better. Emphasize that someone will always be there to take care of them.
Give hugs. Provide physical comfort – mom may not be able to hold them the way they’re used to.
Be aware of children’s needs. Have open communication with the child’s parents at the beginning of each visit to see if anything has changed, like the children’s knowledge of mom’s cancer, new behaviours or routines. If there are any changes, note them in your post-visit feedback. You will provide your feedback through our client management system called NANapply. You will read more about NANapply in Unit 6. If you have reported an issue or concern through your feedback on NANapply, our Child Life Specialist will get back to you promptly either through NANapply, email or telephone.
Be careful with language. Avoid statements like “be quiet so mommy can get better.” Young children can interpret that to mean that it’s their fault their mom has cancer. Also, avoid euphemisms – instead of saying “mommy’s sick,” use the word cancer. If she has died, don’t say she’s sleeping, or has gone to a better place. Use concrete words that can’t be misinterpreted.
Leave the toys behind. For infection control and hygiene purposes – leave any toys from your Activity Bag that you used during your visit in the home. This gives the opportunity for the children to practice and play using those toys while you are not caring for them. You can see how they are progressing with some of the programming suggestions you’ve been given by NAN’s Child Life Specialist.