There is nothing more painful than caring for a child who is dying. Children are a blessing, and having them is a great thing. When they fall sick with a terminal illness, we have to prepare for the worse. Dying children need special care and attention. It may be stressful to care for a terminally ill child, but it’s worth it. After all, we are all humans. Here are some tips to help you do it right when it comes to caring for a terminally ill child.
1. Honest Communication
Children with terminal illnesses are passing through and experiencing pain and suffering. For you to help them, there must be some form of communication. You have to invent a strategy to establish healthy communication and conversation. When they are feeling lonely, they must be able to communicate with you. So you can take appropriate action.
No matter the condition, children will always ask for things they can’t get (1). You must be ready to deal with this situation when it arrives. Create an atmosphere of proper communication to exchange information. Let the child have the feeling they can tell you anything.
2. Dealing with Behavioral Issues
Children will still have their behavioral issues intact even when they are ill. The only difference is they have less energy to move around. But still, you will need to deal with behavioral issues as you care for a terminally ill child.
Many parents will want to spoil the child and attempt to blame the sickness for their indulgence. This will be a problem as children will always be who they are. So, to get things right, you must set limits and avoid overindulgence.
Point out the issues of unacceptable behavior and let them know the consequences. It can be tricky to achieve, but with practice, you will succeed. Help the kid realize that everything you’re doing is for their good.
3. The Option of Hospice Care
Terminally ill kids might have to get hospice care. What makes hospice care so powerful is because it prioritizes comfort. Children fighting cancer or any other illness will suffer pain. But with hospice care, they get good care in a conducive environment.
The caregivers provide all their emotional and spiritual needs. You should know that hospice care is for children who have a limited time to live. So, every minute counts for the caring and happiness they receive (2).
Many parents want their ill child to spend their last days with siblings, friends, family, and pets. But sometimes, the kids develop real friendships with the hospital staff.
4. Palliative Care
Children receiving cancer treatment will need to receive palliative care. It’s a kind of care to help them deal with the side effects and pain of the treatment they’re receiving. Doctors provide this care at any stage of treatment. With this type of care for a terminally ill child, the kid will live with more comfort. Because palliative care is so powerful many people have seen it as a cancer treatment. It is not so at all.
Parents who have their ill child at home can learn about this care. It helps to provide an easier way for the patient to live the remaining of their lives. Palliative care builds trust and confidence and helps the kid live in happiness.
5. Talking To the Child about Death
Children have an understanding of what death is about. When you care for a terminally ill child, this topic of death will arise. You must be prepared to explain it to them in the best way they will understand. If you think the child is not ready, you can wait until they are.
There are ways to go about finding the right time to speak to your child about death. Look for signs the child is ready for such a conversation. When your child asks questions about death, it shows they are ready to know. Look for teachable moments during daily activities like when watching a movie.
Avoid using misleading words like “passing away” or “going to sleep”. Let them know its death they are dealing with (3). Give them the assurance they will not be alone whatever the situation.
6. Meeting the Needs of the Child
Every child has needs. However, the needs of the ill child are different and surmounting. You will need to provide the child with their heart’s desire. Parents having issues with meeting the child’s psychosocial and physical needs can do this. School plays a major role in the life of a child, especially socialization.
You will need to encourage the child to attend school, even if it’s not full time. Allow and encourage your child to maintain friendships with people they like. Give them time to do kid stuff like exploring the outdoors and watching TV. Let them have some alone time dreaming and fantasizing.
Encourage the child to continue to set goals and achieve them. Don’t indulge. Continue with normal parenting by setting limits. When children do too much, they get overwhelmed and lose control.
7. Finding Support, Reduce Burden and Deal With Emotions
A time will come when you will need help as you care for a terminally ill child. You must be ready to find this support and use it to your best intentions. The best way to get help is through family, spouse, and close friends. Let these people you trust know your feelings and fears. Allow them to console you and help you get your spirit high.
You may also want to seek support from professional counselors. People with sick children will get support from support groups as well.
Take the offer when family and friends want to help you. Also, consider making funeral arrangements before time. The earlier you begin the process, the better it is for you. Make sure you spend time with the child (4).
Kids in this condition need all the love and care they can get from their parents. The process of grief is often long and painful. But dealing with the emotions of losing your child is not something you can’t ignore. Find the right path to dealing with crying, sorrow, and anger. Find solace in friends, family, and siblings, and have the hope that you will survive.
Sara Leandro is a certified health coach who helps others feel their best through individualized lifestyle changes that meet their unique needs and health goals. She covers topics ranging from health and productivity to relationships.