Understanding The Value Of Online Personal Training

Understanding The Value Of Online Personal Training

Reconciling Grief And Childhood: How To Help A Child Cope With The Death Of A Family Member

Edward Payne

Losing a loved one is hard for anybody, but for children, it can be confusing and scary as well as sad. If you're responsible for a child who has just lost a parent or sibling, there are a few things you can do to help make the transition and grieving period easier for them.

Be Real

As an adult, it can be very tempting to use watered-down language to explain death and dying. However, children have not yet developed the cognitive understanding of extended metaphorical thinking. Therefore, they may not fully comprehend phrases like "passed away" or "gone to sleep". When someone close to a child dies, it's important to:

  • explain what death means. If you're religious, you can explain this in the terms dictated by your denomination, such as the spirit or life force leaving the body behind. If you prefer a secular approach, explain that the heart keeps you alive, and when people die, their hearts stop beating, and their bodies no longer work. Help the child to understand that death is permanent.
  • have multiple conversations. Even if you sit down and discuss feelings about death and dying, some children will need to have the discussion almost daily as they adapt to this new reality. It is how they cope with change.
  • accept feelings and validate them. It can be easy to try and soothe feelings like fear and guilt by dismissing them by saying things like, "There's no reason to be afraid," or "It is not your fault." However, most feelings aren't dismissed so easily. Help children to understand these emotions by explaining where they come from and how to face them.
  • realize that the child may not want to talk to you. Sometimes, especially after the death of a parent, children only feel safe talking to certain people. Encourage the child to talk to anyone that they feel comfortable talking to-- this could be a relative, or schoolteacher, or a grief counselor. Children counseling can greatly benefit your son(s) or daughter(s).

Stay Scheduled

Even after the death of a loved one, life goes on. After a loss, it's best to keep children to as regular a schedule as possible. Wake them up at the same time each day, pick them up school, and make meals that they are used to eating. Try to keep on top of music lessons and sports practices, so that a sense of normalcy can return. 

Most children struggle with academic performance following the death of a family member, especially a parent. It's important to realize this kind of trauma often hinders focus and the ability to learn well. If poor performance due to anxiety and manifestations of anger continue to manifest after a few months, you may want to talk to a psychologist about the possibility of PTSD

Be Prepared And Get Help

Sometimes, you can prepare children for loss if you know it is coming. For example, if a family member has a terminal illness, you can discuss a time frame and explain, in simple terms, the type of sickness that the person has, and what will eventually happen as the disease gets worse. In fact, if your family is going through this type of stress, a trained psychologist can help children to:

  • express feelings through play and pictures. Often, young children may not have the words to describe how they are feeling, and therefore may feel stressed or threatened by their inability to understand themselves. Counseling sessions will help children to uncover some of the feelings they have, and teach them how to label their emotions.
  • build a trusting relationship with someone who is not family. It can be easier to talk to someone who is removed from the immediate pain of the situation.
  • understand proper connections between death and regular activities. For example, if a family member dies in a car crash, young children may make the simple connection that all cars are bad, and may be afraid of them. A counselor can help to sever these types of fears.
  • regain interest in daily activities as they overcome depression. Depression is common in people all ages after the death of someone who is close to them. Children may show signs of depression by becoming preoccupied with death, having an unwillingness to play or work, or showing a loss of appetite.

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Understanding The Value Of Online Personal Training

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