Supportive Care at the Joan Karnell Cancer Center
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Level of Understanding and Developmental Stage

  • Self-centered; they think concretely and simply.
  • Unable to conceive the future, but understand “yesterday” and “today.”
  • Attached to parents and primary caregivers and worry about separation.
  • Feelings are important and often expressed through actions.
  • Understand being hurt or getting sick as caused by an action (falling off their bike or catching a cold), but think that getting better happens quickly.

Helping Them Cope

  • Provide brief, simple answers to their questions and share your own feelings in the same manner.
  • Your normal tone of voice and presence are reassuring.
  • Encourage them to express emotions in an active way: drawing pictures, playing outside or listening to music.
  • Provide as much love and attention as you can; hugs are very reassuring.
  • Reassure the child that they are healthy and that it is not their fault their parent is sick.


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Need an appointment? Request one online 24 hours/day, 7 days/week or call 800-789-PENN (7366) to speak to a referral counselor.

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