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Advice/ideas on helping child cope with illness in the family

Discussion in 'Primary' started by little_miss_indigo, Nov 17, 2011.

  1. little_miss_indigo

    little_miss_indigo New commenter

    A girl in my class (Year 3) is finding things difficult at the moment. Her mother's cancer has come back. The family received the news before half term and mum is going through chemo at the moment.
    Obviously, she is very emotional but also very open about how she is feeling. The past week has been extremely difficult for her. Today, she cried on no less than 15 separate occasions. She has a 'feelings' book, which she uses both at school and at home. Regular contact is being kept with her parents.
    I'm hoping anyone can give me advice on how to give her strategies with dealing/channeling with a range of emotions (from anger to sadness).
    Please help!
  2. clawthorpegirl

    clawthorpegirl New commenter

    We've had several families going through this recently and had some support from a charity, if you are anywhere in the NW let me know and I will find the number for you.
    The advice we had was as far as possible carry on as normal but build in a system to allow child to share their feelings and to give them space and a listening ear when needed. For example a box with pictures of emotion faces in, child can select the one they are feeling and hand it to you, leave in agreed place, if sad, angry etc this is a sign they need some time.
    Regarding dealing with emotions some really helpful advice was to acknowledge and accept that feeling i.e. 'I can see your feeling really sad today'. 'Thats a really big feeling to have' rather than try to change it i.e. 'there there don't cry' (I'm sure you wouldn't actually put it like that!). Then just sit quietly with some colouring etc and allow child space to talk about whatever they like. Sometimes this may be enough.
    Another idea which may be helpful is to have a simple outline shape of a body, ask child to first colour in parts where they feel happy likely to be a smile, mayde their heart, brain etc and then ask them to colour where they feel unhappy - maybe hands and feet because it makes them want to kick, thump etc.
    We were also recommended to buy a couple of books to share - The Huge bag of Worries and The Saddest King.
    On a final note make sure you are OK and getting any support you need as its difficult to support a child through such a hard time.
  3. clear_air

    clear_air New commenter

    Keep the classroom as kind and consistent as you can.
    I once taught a little girl who's mummy died in the summer holidays. She didn't want to talk about it, but she knew we knew, and the staff and class were very kind to her. I didn't make a big deal about it - after all, what can you say? Nothing will make it better. But she knew I knew, and she knew I was watching out for her.
    Contacting charities is a good idea - Winston's Wish??/ Hope she's ok.

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