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Advice needed regarding a poorly parent!


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Hi all

We go back to pre-school on Thursday and last week I was told one of children's dad has been admitted to hospital with a brain tumour, he will be needing an operation and most probably chemo and radiotherapy. He has been told it could affect his memory and his eyesight too.

The little girl is only 3 and she knows her daddy is poorly in hospital and they will make him better. She hasn't been to visit him yet.

I have never had to support a child in this situation before, so any advice would be most welcome!


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Yes, I agree with woodlands.

You need to speak with the family and ask what they want you to do/say, it may not be what you want or think- but you must work with the family on this one.

Not easy, :(.


You might include things like hospital, Drs role play, just to help her be familiar with things - although again check with family first.


Edited by louby loo
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Oh no,

I totally agree with the above comments, it is up to the family to decide how you approach the situation. They may just want preschool to be the stable routine for the child. However your team will need to be prepped to handle comments and questions from the little girl when she talks of her home life.

The only extra thing could be a journal/scrap book which she can show daddy each day so he still feels he's part of her preschool life.

Your staff or key person may also need some emotional support. When we supported a little one with chemo a lot of team hugs went on!! when we heard updates and saw her and her family deal with the whole process. On a happier note she made a full recovery.

Fingers crossed XXX

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Agreed. Normal routine for her..............her home life might be very unbalanced at the moment, so definately speak to her family so you know what the child has been told ( if anything),that way you can tell her the same things, even if you disagree with the family's view of things. So, maybe phone mum before the little one comes back to you and don't forget to ask mum how she's doing too. This will be scatery for her as well. It is important that she has space to be herself; like I said, her home life might be quite different, especially if hospital visits have to be worked into the routine. Chemo is not so bad.........lots of dads have no hair, so she might not ask questions. My preschool children had been warned that I was probably going to lose mine ( I asked parents permission to tell their children the truth.....that I was poorly with something called cancer, that doctors were going to make me better and I would have to take some very strong medicine called chemotherapy, which was so strong, it would make my hair fall out. They laughed at that, but when it happened they talked about it and a couple said it was ok, it was just the chemo). So, do you need to know the prognosis?? Is it expected that this little one's dad will make a good recovery? Or not? If t's all good, you can say he is taking strong medicine that will make him tired ( the rads will do that for sure), so he will be sleepy and need to rest, or it might make him sick ( it shouldn't nowadays as they manage that very well as a general rule), so again he'll be tired and need to rest. If he is unlikely to make a full recovery, then you really must be guided by the family's wishes. Above everything, this little one needs stability, her friends and her routine and not a bunch of weepy staff who pander to her every whim. That won't help her ( and no, I am not suggesting you'd be like that!). Keep things normal, that way she will cope. Do you need to offer extra sessions for the child............could you give the space free of charge if necessary, mum will have lots of extra expenses right now,so she might be very relieved if you could offer extra care as and when she needs it? ( If not, it might be worth calling LEA to see if they can offer contribution towards cost..........and failing that, try MacMillan as they will often help with things) Good luck, this is horrid for all concerned xx

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Great advice from narnia. When we had a parent in a hospice we sent pictures and little antidotes about the child to her, some friends where going to come in and do some filming of the child but sadly this was too late. Be consistent with the child, you may be her only stability at the moment. We found the little girl needed lots of love and cuddles and just a little extra reassurance from us.

We were flexible about days and hours, we managed to up our ratio to include an extra space each day that could be used if the family needed it.

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You are right about tearful staff, during this time staff need to maintain their professional persona, despite the emotions that they are personally experiencing. Its the needs of the child and family that come first.

When big/emotional things happen in our setting; normally once the session has ended or during meetings, we are able to debrief and support each other if needed.

Extra or extended sessions also sounds like a good idea too, so mum and family know you are doing what you can to help.

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We too have a poorly parent at the mo....we applied and received extra funding from LEA and by accident found out about Side by side funding,which paid for 2 sessions a week for our 3 yr old and her 5 yr old sister,to enable the spouse or his mother to visit the hospital....we have been instructed by the family not to say that all will be well,mummy will be home soon.we just ensure they are happy and playing and distracted when with us...we are crossing fingers and toes that she will recover..xx

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