Cancer handbook: Discipline during treatment

Sticking to how you would normally treat your child can be one of the most effective things you can do to help keep their behaviour under control.

Being away from home, family and friends can also be difficult for a child. This can affect their behaviour. They may feel lonely or become very clingy and argumentative. This is expected and normal. 

    It is normal for parents to feel like this

    Your child may be in pain or discomfort and when this is the case, it can be really difficult to discipline them – it’s completely understandable and you’re not the only one who feels like this. 

    • children can get used to being 'special' and want the special treatment to continue, i.e. gifts, attention
    • discipline problems are most common when the special attention stops and normal activities resume
    • pain and the side effects of treatment cause irritability and can make it difficult to know what is reasonable to expect of your child.

    Children expect and need adults to give them structure

    If a parent does not expect the child to behave or follow the same rules that were in place before the illness, the child may think the illness is worse than they have been told. 

    • adjust your expectations to your child's condition
    • use praise and attention to reward good behaviour
    • try a 'time out' approach or taking away privileges for misbehaviour. 
    Last updated Friday 31st May 2024