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How to Help a Child Grieve

April 18, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 144

Is there anyone more vulnerable than a child who has just lost someone close to them? Death is a tragedy for anyone, but for children, the death of a family member or close friend can be even more devastating and confusing than it is for an adult. It's hard for them to understand what happened and to comprehend what will happen next. That's why it is so important to be there for children in their time of grief to help them through this difficult time.

Recognize the Signs

Children tend to express grief differently than adults. They have fewer life experiences and consequently fewer (if any) experiences with death. It doesn't make sense to them. Especially with younger children, it may take longer for grief to "set in" because they may not understand right away that the loss is permanent. But when grief does set in, it's important to recognize the signs so you can help them through.

  • Acting Out
  • Silence
  • Anger
  • Poor Performance at School
  • Mood Swings
  • Immaturity

Foster Communication

If you're lucky enough to have a child who willingly talks about their thoughts and feelings, that's great. However, if your child isn't keeping you in the loop about how they're feeling, it's important that you go out of your way to ask. Keep the lines of communication open long after you think your child has "recovered." Be persistent about checking in with them to make sure you're not overlooking something serious like depression or anxiety.

Lead by Example

Many parents think they need to be strong in front of their children. However, if you tell your children it's okay to be sad and express your emotions, but you yourself are grieving in private, what kind of message does that send? Not that you always have to cry in front of your children, but if you feel sad, it doesn't hurt to talk about it with your children. Chances are, they're feeling sad too and it always helps to talk about it.

Be Sensitive About the Funeral

The funeral can be a frightening experience for young children. If you feel your children might not handle the funeral well or if they express a desire not to go, there's no shame in letting them stay with a baby-sitter that day. The burial ceremony can be especially scaring for a small child who doesn't fully understand the meaning of death. Use your best judgement and listen to their wishes.

Knowing what to look for in your child's grieving process is the first step in helping them through. Keep track of their progress, and if there is any doubt about their recovery, seek professional help. Traumatic experiences at an early age can lead to more serious problems later in life if they are left un-attended to. The best you can do is to be there for your child and help them to deal with the pain.

Source: EzineArticles
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