Children and young people in your family?

When someone in the family is sick and children and young people are affected they need to understand what is happening. You may be a patient, a relative or the parent of a sick child with siblings.

At the hospital we are here to ensure that children and young people in your family are well looked after. The information we can give is particularly important for mental illness, drug addiction or serious forms of physical illness or injury, but may also be relevant for other conditions.

What do we do in the hospital? 

We always ask our patients if they have children, young adults or siblings. We do this by asking the patient or the accompanying person (e.g. companion or parent).

When there are children and young people in the family, we would like to get to know them and find out how they are feeling. We do this by asking:

  • What are children’s names, how old are they and where do they live?
  • Who has daily care for the children and where are they when the patient receives treatment?
  • What do the children know about the treatment or admission?

The children may need information or follow-up, if so it is common to talk more about:

  • How the children are feeling.
  • What the children may need to know more about.
  • How their daily life has changed as a result of the illness.
  • Who can be resource persons for the children: within the family, in the neighbourhood or at school.
  • What the children need.

 What can the hospital offer you and your family?

At the hospital we can support you and your family in different ways:

  • Talk with you about your children: How the children are feeling and what they need, what are common reactions, how you can talk together about what is happening and what you can be aware of. Another topic may be how it is to be a parent when illness befalls a family.
  • Have conversations with the family or the children alone: What your children know, how their everyday life has changed, if they have all the information they need, how to handle the situation you are in and what will happen in the future.
  • Facilitate when children and young people visit the hospital.
  • Give information on useful places to find knowledge, help and support.
  • Cooperate and contact with other services (e.g. the school nurse, school, kindergarten or others).

Tips and advice for families

Children and young people usually want to talk about what is happening with someone they know and with whom they feel safe. Most of them also want to participate in decisions that affect them, whether they are about activities, planning everyday life or choosing the type of follow-up. This means that you as the family are often closest to them for finding out how they are feeling and contributing to what they need.

Below you will find some advice on what can be a good idea to do before, during and after treatment. You can also adapt the advice in ways that work for you and your family. Do what is best for you.

  • Tell your children about the illness and treatment as early as possible.
  • Consider what they have understood: What do they know about the illness and treatment? What will happen next? What feelings have you shown when the children have been present?
  • Talk openly about what is going to happen: Be honest and use words they can understand.
  • Think about how detailed it is appropriate to be. Encourage them to ask if they are wondering about anything.
  • Show pictures or films from the hospital or institution.
  • Plan your absence together with your children: Who should be responsible for what? What do the children want to contribute? What is important for them to have an overview of, for example, follow-up of homework and leisure activities?
  • Talk together about how you can keep in touch along the way. Are you going to have contact by phone / messages / chat? Do they want to come to visit? Do you want to use social media, if so how?
  • Are there special events in your children's lives that should be taken into consideration, such as birthdays?
  • Tell your children who has received information about what is happening, such as the extended family and class teacher.
  • Ask your children who they want to know about the illness and whether they would like to tell some things themselves.
  • Talk to your children and young people about what they can say if anyone asks about the situation.

  • Encourage your children to continue with their daily activities.
  • Make clear agreements about how you can keep in touch during treatment.
  • Give honest and up-to-date information that children can understand.
  • If you receive serious news: inform your children after you have reacted yourself to the news. Involve other adult caregivers and if you want, ask health professionals to be present. Do not wait too long to inform your children.
  • Talk to us about inviting your children to visit if you or their siblings are admitted. Children should be prepared for what they will see, who they can meet and for how long they can visit. Inform us how we can positively engage with your children and if there is anything which we should be especially aware of.
  • Tell your children that they can talk to us - alone or together with you.

  • Spend time together. Continue with activities you like or find new ones.
  • Talk to your children about how the illness and treatment have affected your everyday lives. How have your children experienced the illness and treatment themselves and for the rest of the family? Is there anything the children wonder about or need?
  • Tell your children that they are allowed to feel and think what they want; play and have fun, be with friends or be alone.
  • Tell them what will happen in the future with the illness, at work and with family activities.
  • Think about the tasks the children have at home and in the family. Are the tasks appropriate or should they be changed?
  • Ask others in or around the family to help follow up your children if needs be, for example, driving to and from training, homework help or arranging birthday activities.
  • Encourage your children to participate in recreational activities and to be with friends.
  • Keep school, kindergarten and leisure organisations informed about the family situation.
  • Talk to someone if you are worried about your children.



Sist oppdatert 04.04.2024