Children can usually tell rather quickly when something is wrong, so it’s always best to inform them as soon as possible. However, timing is important, and this type of conversation should take place in a calm and relaxed environment, allowing the child time and space to digest the news.
It might also be worthwhile to have points written down beforehand, both to reduce any anxiety on the part of the person delivering the news and to put the child at ease.
Bear in mind that the younger the child, the less specific the information they require.
Small children need to feel included, especially in stressful situations, even though it can be difficult for them to understand something intangible. Small children are very egocentric and believe that everyone perceives the world as they do. In addition, their language skills mean words and certain phrases are taken literally and can be misunderstood.
By the time a child has reached school age, they have a better understanding of the concept of causality as well as the consequences of their actions. They can also grasp the meaning of abstract words like ‘death’ and ‘forever’ and how a serious disease or death can be. However, they may struggle to understand uncertainties and timelines.
When your child becomes a teenager, they have developed the ability to think hypothetically and logically. This enables them to be more critical of any information they receive. Teenagers also understand the finality of death and can distinguish between the disease and the cause. They may look for information on their own, which can either reassure or worry them.