4 Dying Child Nursing Care Plans


Meeting the physical, emotional, and psychosocial need of a dying child is important to support the totally dependent child and grieving family in experiencing the best quality of life possible. The child’s terminal illness and care can affect the whole family, hence, the nurse initial role is to establish rapport in order to build and develop effective communication that assists in alleviating unnecessary fears and anxiety about impending death and supporting anticipatory grieving.

Nursing Care Plans

Nursing care plan for a dying child involves providing substantial and appropriate age-related information about death and dying to allay anxiety, providing optimal pain relief through pharmacological and non-pharmacological methods, assisting the child to move through the stages of awareness and acceptance, and helping the family cope through the stages of grieving.

Here are four (4) nursing care plans (NCP) and nursing diagnosis (NDx) for a dying child:

  1. Acute Pain
  2. Anxiety
  3. Anticipatory Grieving
  4. Dysfunctional Grieving

Anticipatory Grieving

Nursing Diagnosis

  • Anticipatory Grieving

May be related to

  • Potential loss of a child

Possibly evidenced by

  • Expression of distress at the potential loss of the child
  • Denial of loss
  • Guilt, anger, sorrow
  • Choked feelings
  • Change in need fulfillment
  • Crying, self-blame, shock, and disbelief
  • Overprotectiveness
  • Loss of hope and depression
  • Withdrawal
  • Avoidance of ill child

Desired Outcomes

  • Child, parents, and family will be able to verbalize feelings about their grief in a culturally relevant manner.
Nursing InterventionsRationale
Assess stage of the grief process,
difficulties encountered, sentiments about terminal nature of the illness and potential loss of the child.
Provides information about the need for grieving, which differs with individual members of a family when child’s death is anticipated.
Reassure child, parents, and family that
grieving is normal.
Promotes understanding of grief reaction and may enhance coping abilities.
Encourage parents and family members to stay with the child as much as they feel and need to, and assist them to understand the child’s behavior and needs.Promotes feeling that they are helping and supporting their child.
Provide opportunities for the family to vent feelings and respond to the child based on the grieving stage.Promotes progression through grieving and ability to display desires for themselves and their child.
Provide emotional and spiritual comfort in an accepting environment, and limit discussions that promote guilt or anger.Provides for an emotional need of parents and family and helps them to adjust to dying child without adding stressors that
are difficult to resolve.
Assist child and family in recognizing and
using effective coping mechanisms and
in an understanding situation over which they have no control.
Promotes effective coping that is positive for the family.
Provide privacy when needed, while being available to the family.Promotes a helping relationship with the family.
Encourage parents to vent their
thoughts and feelings about the possible death of their child; to share memories of their child’s life; to create memories; to take family pictures, and create a memory box of their child’s memory.
Promotes parent coping, acceptance of grief process, and may lessen the sense of guilt.
Encourage parents to be involved with child’s care (i.e., treatment, pain control).Avoids feelings of powerlessness and helplessness.
Teach parents about the child’s developmental understanding of death; educate and encourage parents to employ children’s books to help in a discussion about the child’s understanding/fears of death.Promotes family communication; promotes family coping abilities.
Arrange for clergy, social services,  hospice care, or return to home for dying
as appropriate; support choices made by the family.
Provides for and assists with alternative care and own decisions for that care.
Inform (child, if appropriate) parents and family of stages of grieving and acceptable behaviors during the grief process.Promotes understanding of feeling and behaviors exhibited by the grieving process.
Provide information about child’s condition, including the appearance of the child, and changes to expect.Enables parents to track the course of terminal condition and change to  expect.
Encourage parents participation in the care and in those they will carry out if the child is taken home to die; advise resources to reach for assistance.Allows parents involvement in child’s care and sharing their sadness with the child.
Allow the family to inquire questions and
to be truthful about their feelings and acceptance of information about death and dying.
Promotes honest and practical view of the situation to enhance grieving.
Teach family to maintain own needs and
health during this difficult time.
Allows family to better adjust with child’s needs if own needs are fulfilled since the terminal period may be prolonged.

Recommended Resources

Recommended nursing diagnosis and nursing care plan books and resources.

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See also

Other recommended site resources for this nursing care plan:

Other nursing care plans for pediatric conditions and diseases:

Paul Martin is a registered nurse with a bachelor of science in nursing since 2007. Having worked as a medical-surgical nurse for five years, he handled different kinds of patients and learned how to provide individualized care to them. Now, his experiences working in the hospital is carried over to his writings to help aspiring students achieve their goals. He is currently working as a nursing instructor and have a particular interest in nursing management, emergency care, critical care, infection control, and public health. As a writer at Nurseslabs, his goal is to impart his clinical knowledge and skills to students and nurses helping them become the best version of themselves and ultimately make an impact in uplifting the nursing profession.