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A new diagnosis or medical setting can be stressful. A serious illness disrupts many aspects of a young child’s life. But your child and family will adjust over time. Here are some ways to support your child’s emotional, behavioral, and social development.
Set a consistent daily schedule so your child knows what to expect. This can help life feel more normal and less stressful.
Create a consistent sleep environment, nap and sleep schedule, and bedtime routine.
It can be hard to manage schedules, medicines, and other medical tasks. Tools and strategies can help you and other caregivers keep up with your child’s medical care.
Simple strategies can often help your child manage pain, be less anxious, and be more comfortable during procedures. Talk with your child’s team about options for pain relief.
Your child needs the same types of support as other young children. They need to feel nurtured and secure. The parenting practices you use now set the stage for your child’s behavior and emotional functioning later in life. Being consistent with limits keeps your young child safe and promotes a sense of security. Throughout early childhood, it is important to match your expectations to your child’s needs.
For information on how illness may affect early childhood development, visit How Cancer May Affect Early Childhood Development.
Talk to your care team if you have questions about your child’s adjustment to illness or social, emotional, or behavioral development. A variety of care team members are available to support you, your child, and your family. Psychosocial services include Psychologists, Chaplains, Child Life Specialists, Music Therapists, School Teachers, and Social Workers.
Reviewed: September 2022