Activities to help children deal with grief

Written by linda woolhether
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Activities to help children deal with grief
Children need guidance and understanding when coping with grief. (Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Everyone faced with death or loss experiences grief. Don't shield children from the reality of it. Allow them to attend funerals and be included in family plans following the death of a loved one or friend. Honesty and sensitivity help children cope with grief in a positive way. Give children the opportunity to express feelings of sadness and loss, and assure them that the emotions they are feeling are completely normal.

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Read Stories

Read stories with your child. Choose appropriate stories depending on his age. Fairy tales and nursery rhymes work well with young children. Let your child lead a discussion; he may want to discuss families if he has lost a parent or grandparent. Let him ask questions. Assure him that it's normal to miss his loved one, that he should remember the good times and that it is all right to cry. Read "Daddy's Climbing Tree" by C.S. Adler to older children and adolescents. It's a story about an 11-year-old girl whose father dies in a hit-and-run accident. Talk about the feelings the girl experiences, and encourage your child to ask questions.

Create a Memory Book

Encourage your child to make a memory book with pictures of her lost loved one and items that remind her of the person. This positive grief response will give her the opportunity to share her emotions. Laugh with her over happy times and occasions, and grieve with her because those times are past. Help her collect photographs or make drawings. Let her relate the significance of each item used in the memory book. Talk about the feelings she is experiencing as she remembers certain celebrations.

Write in a Journal

Writing is an outlet for expressing emotions in a non-threatening way. Purchase a journal or diary for your child and suggest that he jot down his thoughts and feelings each day. Encourage him to write poems or short stories about his loss. Help him remember good things, but don't discourage writing about sad things. Help him make a family tree with all the people in his life, both living and dead. The tree will help him see how much support he still has even after his loss.

Continue Daily Activities

According to the National Association of School Psychologists, children cope with grief better when they continue with everyday activities. If your child is involved in sports, encourage her to stay active and continue with practices and games. For example, she may refuse to play on her soccer team because her dad won't be there to watch and cheer her on. Suggest that she continue to play because that is what her dad would expect.

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