It Is OK to Cry: When Children Grieve
Published on: January 12, 2017It’s hard for parents to recognize how and when our children grieve and how to help. By Johanna De Konig As parents, we often want to protect our children from sorrow, which is not always possible. In fact, sometimes we parents do not realize that our children mourn and are sad about things we ourselves would not consider a big deal. A child’s age and the fact that each child responds differently to loss makes it difficult for grown-ups to support a child. In order to mourn, children have to:
- realize the loss and accept the new reality
- understand their sadness as well as feelings of pain and loss
- come to terms with these feelings and accept that life will be different
- rebuild and enjoy their life once again.
How children express griefChildren often express their grief in several ways. Some show anger and feelings of guilt and fear that often manifest in behavior patterns of tantrums and disobedience.
The way to help children mourn is by being there for them.They may also start exhibiting sleep problems, bed-wetting, mood swings or even distance themselves from those around them. Some children even go through physical changes while others have absolutely no expression of the loss.
How to help grieving childrenThe way to help children mourn is by being there for them. Rather than avoiding the uncomfortable and painful topic, address it sympathetically.
- Talk about the person they have ‘lost’ (or if it was a pet, the pet’s name) and relive the memories.
- In general, children tend to be more open and willing to talk during play or while distracted by another activity such as drawing, doodling or coloring.
About the AuthorJohanna is a counselor with over 30 years of experience in counseling and therapy. A family therapist and Sand-tray and Clay therapist, she has helped adults and children with mental health issues, anxiety, depression, and bipolarity, etc., and worked 4 years as a Mental Health Trainer and Supervisor in a Thai refugee camp. Johanna is Clinical Supervisor at New Counseling Service (NCS), Bangkok. She speaks Dutch and English, as well as Thai.
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