Helping Children Cope with Death

the death of a child. In other families, a surviving child may be overprotected by a parent’s intense fear of losing another child or neglected all together as the parent focuses on the death of the other child. Still other parents may prohibit any discussion regarding the child who died. A grieving child’s response to the death of a brother or sister is heavily dependent, then, upon interactions with parents or other caregivers. Show Love Children young and old need expressions of love to help them through difficult times. Parents and caregivers may want to offer a lot of touching or holding to help the child feel secure. Telling a child you love them regularly can be very helpful, and may also encourage them to express how they feel. Respond to Children’s Feelings It is very important to respond appropriately to children’s feelings. Younger children may be less able to express themselves verbally, but may do so through their actions. With older children, it is useful for parents and caregivers to encourage free expression of thoughts and feelings. Children may express sadness, fear and anger, all of which are to be expected. A child may cry, which is perfectly natural. Do not be afraid of tears and do not attempt to hurry them along. Anger may be acted out in physically appropriate ways, such as running outside or stuffing newspapers in a trash bag. When a child appears to be feeling a particular way, ask him/her how they are feeling. The best way for a child to become comfortable in sharing his/her thoughts and feelings is for a parent or caregiver to be open in sharing his/her own Helping Children Cope

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