Real Resolutions for Kids with Cancer
As another year ends, the common thread of the world is to create goals, resolutions and promises for betterment in the New Year. However, cancer patients, survivors, and caretakers struggle with many challenging questions. Will my child’s treatment work? Will I get sick from the stress? Will life ever be “normal” again? These questions tend to have a more substantial presence at the start of a new year. It’s absolutely understandable and expected that the fear of uncertainty is overwhelming as you make plans for your family’s future. Instead of setting unrealistic goals, focus on what you can control and stay positive at any level. We’ve found some simple strategies and expert advice to help your family remain optimistic and motivated in 2023!
Jennifer Katzenstein, Ph.D., from the Center for Behavioral Health at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, provides some practical tips to help parents make resolutions with their children. Whether you make resolutions with a child with a pediatric cancer diagnosis or other children in the household, it’s essential to include everyone in individual goal-setting. Even if it’s just one or two realistically achievable goals, all children benefit from something to be accountable for.
Dr. Katzenstein emphasizes that the key is making sure these are achievable resolutions and that everyone feels that they want to achieve the resolution, is excited about it, and has some level of independence in choosing the resolution or resolutions. Keep resolutions positive. We want these to be things we should be doing, not something to avoid.
Top Real Resolutions for Families with a Cancer Diagnosis:
- One act of random or planned kindness a day has been shown to have psychological benefits to how someone copes with difficulty and also physically releases “happy” endorphins to improve moods for a positive outlook.
- Give a family member a daily compliment.
- Parents practice daily praise for their children, and children practice everyday thankfulness to their parents.
- Put a treat out for delivery and postal services that come to your home.
- Several service opportunities can be done from the comfort of your home. Taking time out monthly to volunteer instills the value of service in your children, which is an invaluable quality.
- Send a cheer email to lonely seniors or write notes to nursing home residents.
- Make car window poetry
- Write a letter to a Veteran
- Make dog toys using old t-shirts!
- Make a Zoom Connection
Learning a new word daily
- This is an easy resolution to keep and helps expand your family’s vocabulary. So many free sites and phone apps will give you the perfect word of the day your whole family can learn.
- New York Times
Reframing a Negative Thought
- Choose a negative thought or forgiving a person or situation individually or as a family daily that you can change your outlook on. Dr. David Burns, a renowned psychiatrist and award-winning researcher, gives core advice on “Reframing.” Reframing is an actual technique used in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to identify automatic thoughts and replace them with more balanced ones. Identifying and stopping negative thoughts is crucial in breaking the cycles of stress, anxiety, and depression that so many families with a cancer diagnosis find themselves stuck in. To learn more, check out Dr. Burns’s excellent book, The Feeling Good Handbook.
Don’t forget to display resolutions!
Having everyone write their resolution and posting it in a place seen every day is a great idea. A simple dry-erase board quickly reminds the whole family of the resolutions you’ve committed to. Or give your kids the important job of putting a bead or stone in a jar to track how many resolutions you’ve accomplished. Put together a family competition of how many days in a row you can stay true to your resolution. When you miss a day, you have to start again, and whoever has the longest streak each month wins!
The most important thing is to sit down and discuss your New Year 2023 plan as a family and ensure kids are allowed to make their own resolution too. A new year is a fresh start full of much fun and opportunity, even as you find your balance with cancer.
Need Cancer Care Support?
If you are a family with a newly diagnosed child with cancer or know of a family who finds themselves in this challenging situation, please contact Here to Serve. Please click on the Get Help button from our homepage. Wishing you 2023, filled with an abundance of health, joy, and many fulfilled resolutions! Happy New Year!
About the Author
Sameera Rangwala spent over 15 years in the biotechnology industry. As a scientist and research professional, she uses her skills to blog and provides words of support to the cancer community.
All content in this blog is for informational and educational purposes only. Always consult a medical provider in your particular area of need before making significant changes in your medical decisions or lifestyle.