Children are like sponges. They soak up whatever is around them. In a household dealing with serious illness, they'll pick up on others' sadness or anxiety. If no one has explained the situation, they'll make up their own ideas about what's going on. As a result, they may feel unnecessarily scared and alone.
Instead of trying to "protect" a child from potentially upsetting news, experts recommend honest talk geared to the individual child. Such talk helps the child
- learn about normal emotions and how to cope
- trust the adults around them
- feel that they're an integral part of the family