As a parent, you helped your child get through the difficult experience of having cancer. You may see that your child is stronger because of the way he or she made it through cancer, or admire your child for the courage he or she showed. Helping your child recognize personal growth is similar to the way you would help your child identify any strength you see. How have you nurtured your child’s strengths and growth in the past? You may start by simply observing aloud or repeating back to your child their strength when he or she shows it to you or tells you about it. For example, if you noticed your child bravely approaching a follow-up medical test that used to be difficult for him or her (such as getting blood taken), you might tell your child how proud you are that he or she is so brave in approaching the nurse to get his or her blood drawn. Or, if your child tells you about being brave while getting his or her blood drawn, repeat back how proud you are that your child was so brave.
You can also ask your child or teen about changes they’ve seen in themselves because of their cancer experience. You may have to ask specifically about any positive changes and could offer some specific examples that you’ve seen in them. Depending on how your child or teen usually likes to express him/herself, you may suggest that they tell their friends about changes they see in themselves, write about them (on paper and/or online), write a song or a poem about them, or make lists of the positive things that have happened to them because of cancer. Don’t forget that your child’s experience was not all positive – while it can be fun to talk about positive changes as a result of cancer, it’s important to let your child know you can talk about negative experiences too.