Strategies to Support Children Who Have Experienced Loss
Children who experience loss may go through periods of regression, which occurs when they lose skills they had previously learned. For example, a child who experiences grief may begin to wet the bed or suck their thumb. Educators should recognize that this is a typical response to loss and work gently with the child and family to regain lost skills.
A child experiencing grief is part of a family that is experiencing grief. Educators must be aware that family members are going through their own emotional and physical journey through grief and may not be able to provide everything that the child needs. Consider increasing touchpoints with the child to be sure that their basic needs are being met and increase the amount of relationship-building interactions you have with the child. Much has changed for the child and they need to form and maintain strong, trusting relationships with the adults in their life.
Offer flexible snacks and meals for the child as their appetite may be impacted by the loss. They may not be hungry at the times meals are offered but still need to have access to nutritious meals and snacks. The same consideration could be applied to rest schedules.
Maintain a predictable routine that sends a message of security and can decrease anxiety.
Talk with the family about the language they prefer to use when talking with the child about the loss. It may be necessary to clarify some language to make it developmentally appropriate for the child’s level of understanding.
Most experts on this topic agree that adults should speak with children as directly as possible about death. Using the word “died” rather than saying they “passed,” “moved on,” “went to sleep,” etc. can help children who tend to think more literally. Think about how the words “moved on” and “went to sleep” might be misinterpreted by a young, concrete thinker. Using direct language can help children understand the reality of the situation and can lessen the likelihood they will begin to associate fear with moving or falling asleep.
Encourage the child to express their feeling through language and art. Let them know that you are there to listen to them if they want to tell a story about their loved one. Provide materials the child can use, such as a private journal, to draw pictures or write about their feelings.
For the main article Grief and Loss, CLICK HERE
For the article Experiencing Loss, CLICK HERE
For the article Children’s Understanding of Loss and Grief, CLICK HERE
For the article Helping Families and Colleagues through Grief, CLICK HERE