- How to Care for Grieving Kids: The Power of Ongoing Conversations
For the Whole of Their Life.
How to Care for Grieving Kids: The Power of Ongoing Conversations
The process of grieving is normal and expected. It can occur both in the period immediately after a loss, and in the months and years to follow.
Children may experience grief over:
- Death of a family member or friend
- Death of a family pet
- Parents separating or a family break-up
- Moving to a new home or school
- Loss of a friendship or friend moving away
- Finding out a family member is sick
- Loss related to a crisis - fire, flood, accident
Children react to grief in different ways. The following reactions are part of a normal response to grief:
- Shock and disbelief
- Longing for the person who has left/died
- Feelings of anger or resentment
- Guilt - for example that they were unable to save the person, or that they survived while their loved one did not
- Anxiety - about the future, how things will be without their loved one around, or their own safety
- Preoccupation with thoughts of the person who has died or left
- Difficulty concentrating
- Changes to sleep patterns and appetite
Cool Kids — An Intervention Group for Anxiety: Do you have a child who struggles with worries and anxieties? Our goal is to assist students to bring their anxiety to manageable levels, as well as give them some skills to deal with their worries and uncertainties.
Sharing heart-breaking news with a child is difficult, but it's important they feel heard and supported by you in the process. Here are some tips to help:
- Try to be as honest and open as possible about what has happened
- Use concrete words - for example, say 'died' or 'death'
- Avoid using euphemisms like 'gone to sleep' or 'passed away'
- Listen to them - it's ok not to have all the answers right now
- Be patient - they may need to hear the answers several times to process it
- Let them know they they can talk to you at any time
- Ask another trusted adult to talk to your child if you feel too distressed
- Encourage them to express their feelings by sharing your own feelings
- Maintain normal routines to help them feel secure
- Let them know that it's okay to play, be happy and have fun
- Allow them to ask questions and talk about their loss as much as they want to
- Encourage them to talk to a caring adult if they feel uneasy talking to you
- Provide clear and age appropriate answers to their questions
- Inform the school of what's happened so they can provide additional support
Grief is a process that happens over time. Be sure to have ongoing conversations to see how your child is feeling and doing. If you need extra support, please feel free to contact one of the St Philip's Christian College Cessnock Wellbeing team members to chat about how we can help your child.
Kids Help Line: 1800 551 800
Learning Support, Wellbeing Team
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