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A Child Finding Difficult To Deal With Cancer


clawton
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Hi,

 

Has anyone any ideas? or does anyone know where I can go for support. I have a 4 year old boy in my class who is finding it difficult to deal with the fact that his Mum as cancer. Her hair has started falling out and he does know how to cope with it. He needs adult interaction in school all of the time which isn't always possible and he doesn't always want to talk about his feelings. He displays silliness, rudness, will hit me and throwing things when he is finding it difficult to cope. I need help with how to deal with him. The Head and myself spoke with his Mum this morning and have come up with some strategies but he is wearing me out so much that I ending up going out on playground duty this afternoon and crying for 5 mins. I feel emotional for his situation but also find it difficult to cope with him. Has anyone had experience of a child like this? I think the fact that it's Friday doesn't help and the fact now that I had a glass or 2 or wine has enabled me to write this message. I'm alright really i just ahd to get it out of my system.

 

Any ideas?

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I dont know any specific places you can go for help. All i can say is that you need to work closely with the family and provide a united strong front. I dont know if there are any story books or books you could read with your children, or circle time or small group time for him to talk about how he feels.

I am sorry i cannot be any more help. It is a very difficult situation. Let us know how you get on.

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Hi Claire -

That sounds like a tough and emotional situation - I know staff can get very involved in these situations, so I feel for you!

 

Just a couple of questions really:

 

Do you have a good constructive relationship with the mum/parents? Are you able to discuss the situation with her/them?

 

Do you know if the mother has a counsellor while she's going through this time? Sometimes it's possible to have the counsellor come in and talk to the staff, and discuss ways to help the child deal with the situation.

 

Best wishes,

Steve.

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It makes me think (I can be wrong) that he might be angry with his mum because she is sick and since we become our pupils 2nd 'mums' then he might proyect in you the anger he has... more than anger I would say fear and sadness... because of the possibility of losing his mum. Until what point does he know what is happening to her? How much time is she being able to share with him? Has he overheard anything? (Maybe that she will die?). If so, he needs to have the reassureance that his mum is not doing this on purpose, that she does not want to be 'neglecting' him, nor that she wants to 'leave' him (in the case she has terminal cancer).

 

Anyway, I hope you can all find the best solution in their particular case.

 

Hugs!

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Many years ago I had a child in my class in this situation and the health team caring for the family came and talked to us so that we were aware.

 

I am sure that you should be able to access some help from someone although not quite sure who---ed psych. perhaps?? doesnt your head or Senco know?

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There must be some professional help out there that can help you and the family. What health personnel do you have at school or which ones can the school provide? The suggestions the other members have expressed are very good. I hope you find some help. Please keep us posted. Okay?

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The SARGENT children's cancer charity and Macmillians Nurses are worth contacting for advice and will point you in the direction of books etc to help you support him. When we had a little girl with cancer in our class a nurse from the hospital came to speak to staff and children and we set up a hospital role play to enable her to renact her experiences through play, although this may not be ideal in your situation, but we found it helped the class deal with the changes on the child's appearance, illness and limited energy asssociated with her treatment etc.

The Macmillian nurses may be working with the family as a whole and it would be worth asking the family and obviously asking if they are happy for you to contact.

Good luck I know how emotionally draining it can be.

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These situations tend to leave an awful feeling of "helplessness". I'm glad you were able to voice your situation to us ( even with the help of a glass of wine or two) Can't really add much more to what has been said, except to try and keep everything else in the little boys life as "normal" as possible, he needs the security of known boundaries and expectations of behaviour, and ways to appropriately express his feelings in his own time.

My thoughts are with you and the family.

 

Peggy

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As a mother of a child who lost a parent and as a teacher I agree with Peggy. Things need to be as normal as possible for him. He is coping with changes and unknown emotions and needs something familiar. Don't let him get away with bad behaviour it will lead to more but be there when he wants to talk or a cuddle. Aswell as blaming his mum he may be blaming himself thinking its something he's done to cause this Health visitor/ school nurse may be able to suggest where to get support.

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I am both a mother and a teacher and i have cancer. This family should have a Macmillan team who do have contacts for family outreach support workers. My children have all reacted differently but this child you are talking about describes my daughters reaction to me being ill. It is anger- and lack of understanding of the illness that is probably to blame. He has probably been told that mummy is ill and keeps having to have special medicine to make her better. This is the way we approached telling my youngest 3 children. this was a mistake. Children are better able to deal with things if you explain in more detail. I will ask my nurses to give me the name of a book they used with my children- it was a true story using photographs of a family going through the same situation. It was very honest and explained why mummy would be sick and have to lose her hair with treatment. This is something that the family should do themselves and should not be left to you. I know this is a very difficult issue for you to deal with in the classroom but I suspect that this child is probably picking up on emotional vibes at home to. It is a very tense and emotional experience and as a parent you try to hide as much as you can- but children are very quick and are able to pick up on things. They want to be able to make mummy better and get very cross.

The child needs for boundries to be kept at school for them to be treated the same as they would be normally-children will feel happier when life can be a constant. If you do focus on a circle time- make it a general circle time about emotions- and ask everyone in the class...try not to focus too much on that child. My daughters teacher used emotion cards- but she used them with all the children - how do they feel today....she would model her own worry then she gave them some sentence strips they hard to 'write' or draw how they feel. Then, she had a huge velvet bag and asked the children to put in their 'worries' at the end of circle time she tied the bag up and said that she had put those worries away. Whenever my daughter lashed out or got cross in class.. her teacher used to ask if she needed time to write down her worry for the bag. It sounds really simple but it did actually work. She also had a star tree...each child had to think of somebody they thought needed some special thinking time from the children to help them feel better, they wrote that person's name on the star and hung it from some willow branches.

 

I am halfway through my treatment now and my daughter has become very accepting.

I will have a chat to my daughters teacher and see if she can come up with anything else. i do feel for you it is a very difficult situation to be in. But you know that you are not alone- there are lots of very wise, funny and incredibly professional people on this site, who will be here for you. So next time don't wait till you have had a couple of glasses of wine to come on.....message us and we will crack open the wine with you! My head has gone blank and if I have waffled at all I apologise! Not sure i have been any help.

Dougal xx :)

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Dougal there is a book Huge Bag of Worries by Virgina Ironside which may be the one used by your daughters teacher. i hope all goes well with your treatment. A very moving post with lots of constructive ideas hope it helps clthomson.

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Dougal, It is knowing people like you ( even though only through cyberspace) that helps to make me a better person. Your words of advice are the truest and thank you for sharing your very useful wisdom. You are one of lifes heroes and my bestest wishes I send for you to have a full recovery.

 

Peggy

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Guest tinkerbell

What an honest and super reply Dougal.

I was 8 when my mother died from cancer (many years ago) and everyone kept quiet about everything that was going on.Your open and honest approach is the best way thank you and good luck eith your treatment.

Tinkerbell

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I am both a mother and a teacher and i have cancer. This family should have a Macmillan team who do have contacts for family outreach support workers. My children have all reacted differently but this child you are talking about describes my daughters reaction to me being ill. It is anger- and lack of understanding of the illness that is probably to blame. He has probably been told that mummy is ill and keeps having to have special medicine to make her better. This is the way we approached telling my youngest 3 children. this was a mistake. Children are better able to deal with things if you explain in more detail. I will ask my nurses to give me the name of a book they used with my children- it was a true story using photographs of a family going through the same situation. It was very honest and explained why mummy would be sick and have to lose her hair with treatment. This is something that the family should do themselves and should not be left to you. I know this is a very difficult issue for you to deal with in the classroom but I suspect that this child is probably picking up on emotional vibes at home to. It is a very tense and emotional experience and as a parent you try to hide as much as you can- but children are very quick and are able to pick up on things. They want to be able to make mummy better and get very cross.

The child needs for boundries to be kept at school for them to be treated the same as they would be normally-children will feel happier when life can be a constant. If you do focus on a circle time- make it a general circle time about emotions- and ask everyone in the class...try not to focus too much on that child. My daughters teacher used emotion cards- but she used them with all the children - how do they feel today....she would model her own worry then she gave them some sentence strips they hard to 'write' or draw how they feel. Then, she had a huge velvet bag and asked the children to put in their 'worries' at the end of circle time she tied the bag up and said that she had put those worries away. Whenever my daughter lashed out or got cross in class.. her teacher used to ask if she needed time to write down her worry for the bag. It sounds really simple but it did actually work. She also had a star tree...each child had to think of somebody they thought needed some special thinking time from the children to help them feel better, they wrote that person's name on the star and hung it from some willow branches.

 

I am halfway through my treatment now and my daughter has become very accepting.

I will have a chat to my daughters teacher and see if she can come up with anything else. i do feel for you it is a very difficult situation to be in. But you know that you are not alone- there are lots of very wise, funny and incredibly professional people on this site, who will be here for you. So next time don't wait till you have had a couple of glasses of wine to come on.....message us and we will crack open the wine with you! My head has gone blank and if I have waffled at all I apologise! Not sure i have been any help.

Dougal xx :)

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Thanks so much for your help. It really has helped knowing that you are on both sides of my situation. I would love to hear from your daughter's teacher. I really like the ideas you have given me already. This site really is so supportive. Good luck with the rest of your treatment.

 

Claire

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Thanks, Dougal, for sharing your personal experience with us. It is through real and direct cases that we can get to understand a little bit more the mysteries of these situations. I am glad you had a good team to work with to deal with the situation personally and as a family. My best wishes for your treatment :).

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Hi don't if it helps but when my oldest son was 31/2 I had Chemo therapy for a pre-cancerous cells and I was in hospital for along time. My son used to come up every weekend and see me as I was in hopsital in London and we lived on the south coast. He used to be fine while he was with me but afterwards when I was better and at home he told me that he thought he was going to get a new mummy because his old one couldn't be mended. We had tried to explain that I was ill but was going to get better but it obviously didn't stop hjim being very scared. His pre-school teachers used to give him lots of cuddles and allow him to talk about what he had done at the weekends when he saw me. I think I have learnt that you really can talk to children and let him know its ok to be angry, and that its not his fault, that his mum is ill. It made me realise that you have to voice for the children all the things that they are feeling because they might not be able to say them themselves. They need you to be as open as possible with them. telll them that its alright to be scared, and that their mum is feeling very scared as well. that she is probaly very tired and can't do all the things that he would like her to do, that he needs to understand that. sorry for rambling but I know how the family feels and even though it is now 17 years later I still feel guilty for being ill and not being there for my son. I think that maybe the parents need to talk to some one to be able to talk about it properly with the children. sometimes as adults we try to protect our children by thinking that they don't understand. They do we just have to do it at their level, and when you see that glzed bored look come into their eyes know that they have had enough said until another time. Tell him that it makes you sad and that you have cried for him and his mum. Honesty on his level is the best thing. good luck with what must be one very frightened and scared and confused little boy.

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P.S

To Dougal

Good luck if you have the right frame of mind you can beat anything in this world. Keep fighting, I finished my treatment a week after Boxing day so for me Christmas time is always very special. I am not a religious person so I don't have any one or thing to thank except marvellous doctors and nurses and a family that pulled together. so enjoy your Christmas and Just think what a marvellous New Year you will have when you have beaten the big C. I wish you all the love that you have surrounding you with your familyand friends.

Steph

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Thanks all for your support :):):) Much appreciated! (Will let you know my final date so that I can celebrate online!)

It was the book Huge bag of Worries my child's teacher used. She also used All Kinds of Feelings too. All that she had to add my previous post was to provide a listening ear and a knowing hug....making sure you pick up on when they need a hug and when they needed to be listened to.

My daughter still has 'moments' in class...but they are very few and far between!

Yes, I agree my daughter's teacher is very special- she has been fantastic! As have my other children's teachers. When I spoke to her about this topic she just said at first she felt unsure of what to do or how to react, but thought that by working with emotional literacy ideas it would be benefitting the whole class and not just my daughter. She says the class are so much calmer and are expressing themselves in a more appropriate ways.

 

If I can be of anymore help please let me know....that's what the forum is all about!

 

Dougal xx :D

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