Helping Children Cope with Death

Infants and Toddlers Infants can sense when something is amiss following the death of their primary caregiver. Although a death in the family may affect an infant, the absence of the mother causes a clear biological reaction. It’s most helpful for an infant if another caregiver assumes primary responsibility for the infant’s care quickly. Passing infants from caregiver to caregiver, however, may cause anxiety due to the fluctuation and inconsistency of care and is not recommended. Older infants may begin to notice that they are separate from their parents or caregivers, and this separation can be frightening. They may grieve for a lost relationship through anger, crying, searching, lack of appetite, and Because he/she cannot comprehend what death is, explanations of death are meaningless. What one does is far more important than what one says to a child this young. Generally, a grieving infant or toddler needs large doses of tender loving care: holding, cuddling, and stroking. A child this young can only experience the presence or absence of another. When an infant or toddler loses a loved one who is not a primary caregiver, such as a sibling, an uncle or a close playmate, the child will notice that person is gone. They may ask for them by name. It’s important to use clear and simple language. You can even use the word “dead,” such as Uncle Bob is dead. Or you can say they won’t be coming Infants and toddlers can sense the absence of a primary caregiver. finally, quiet resignation. A child of two years can feel grief and anxiety in their surroundings and will require frequent touching and holding for reassurance.


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