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Three Tips to Help Kids Through the Holidays when a Serious Family Illness Intervenes

Published: 12/24/2014

KANSAS CITY, KAN.— The holidays are a special time for children.  However, for some children the job of the season is tempered when a family member is dealing with a serious illness.  Children can often feel cheated or resentful when holiday joy has to be shared with the very serious business of critical health care.

Turning Point: The Center for Hope and Healing, Kansas City’s highly respected patient support organization, helps children cope with the stress of serious family illnesses.  The Director of Children’s Programming at Turning Point, Annie Seal offers three ideas to help children through this difficult time.

  • Kids Want Their Parent’s Time More than Presents 
    Sure, all kids want some presents, but Seal said friends and family can helped parents stressed by illness find more time for their kids by volunteering to take over some tasks like laundry and grocery shopping.  Also consider providing a ready-made easy family activity such as providing cookie dough and decorations for the parents to take some time to do together.
  • Acting Out for Attention is Normal in These Situations
    Seal said take the normal anticipation for the season and multiply it when there is a serious illness in the family.  Children can get frustrated when they don’t understand everything happening with the illness and why it is interfering with the holidays.  Parents need to have understanding as well as rules in these situations.
  • Family and Friends Can Share Parts of Their Own Holiday Fun with Children in Stressed Homes
    While it may not be as special as with their own parents, kids can still feel they aren’t missing the holiday experience when friends and family bring them along for some holiday activities.  Seal said things like seeing light displays, holiday movies or ice skating are perfect for sharing with kids and provide a great break for families dealing with illness.
Turning Point provides support for patients, their families and caregivers dealing with serious illnesses, such as cancer, heart disease and Parkinson’s.  Turning Point provides classes, activities and education at its Leawood facility.  Patients say the coping skills Turning Point provides are more important during the holidays.

Interview with Annie Seal, Cathy Pendleton, Children's Program Director, Turning Point.

Seal says Turning Point needs continuous philanthropic support to maintain its programs at no charge for those with serious illnesses, their families and their caregivers.

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