How Can Children With Cancer Overcome Emotional Distress? A child’s and family’s experience with paediatric cancer is traumatic. It includes the medical, parental, and emotional support that children require during these trying times. Medical procedures can often irritate them and cause anxiety, leaving them depressed and lonely. They require a lot of reassurance and positivity around them, which includes parents and other family members talking to them and staying with them on a regular basis.

How Can Children With Cancer Overcome Emotional Distress?

Dr Satish Kumar CR, Consultant – Clinical Psychology, Manipal Hospital Old Airport Road

Coping Up with Emotional Breakdowns

  1. A graphic art format can assist cancer-diagnosed children in projecting their feelings out rather than keeping them inside. Make them express their emotions through writing, drawing, and speaking. If hospitalized, they should be made to walk and, if possible, be exposed to sunlight because these activities can raise serotonin levels.
  2. Talking about past happy memories is another good idea; making them talk about their favourite happy memories could yield a positive mood. They also need to talk to their friends in person or via video calls quite often because this helps them maintain healthy peer relationships, which is crucial for their mental health.
  3. Furthermore, making them visualize their best possible future self, which includes picturing themselves at home, healthy and happy, returning to school, and spending quality time with their friends and family, can help boost their optimism.
  4. A healthy balanced diet and regular physical and breathing exercises play a vital role in their daily activities, which can maintain their circadian rhythms. In addition, helping them with their academic perspective should make them feel less burdened; sitting with them while they study and do assignments and motivating them with their studies should be a good idea.
  5. Having a role model will always inspire them to overcome insecurities and low moods as they will always seek the best qualities from their role model whenever required. Moreover, developing a new hobby, if they do not have any activities to practice, both indoor and outdoor activities such as games, sports or creative craft work, can help them cope well with the emotional lows and breakdowns.

Keeping a Positive Mood

  1. Passive activities like watching movies, listening to music, and reading comics and novels are the best cognitive distractions.
  2. Have a constant check of their thoughts and mood by talking to them regularly or asking them to write a diary.
  3. Effortful assertive self-talk can break the chain of default negative thoughts.
  4. Having a sense of spirituality, praying regularly, and believing in nature can keep them positive and help them gain mental support whenever they feel helpless.

However, parents should be careful about discussing health-related issues in front of their children and avoid doing so, as hearing their parents or other family members discuss their health can result in anxiety in them. How Can Children With Cancer Overcome Emotional Distress?

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