As someone`s death is a disaster for an adult person, it also disrupts a life of a child. When this happens, children need adults to try to understand and comfort them but many times this family is also devastated by pain and doesn`t have structure to support them. This is a moment when someone near, who has an affection link to the children must be closer and be a good listener as well as warm and protective. It is impossible to protect them from pain and suffering but at least it is a moment to comfort and be together.
We have selected six advices from the American psychologist Robin F. Goodman, specialist in trauma and grieving, published at the American website Modernloss.com that will help you to help a child.
1. There are children in a grieving process everywhere. One in each 20 children will be faced with parents or a brother or sister`s death before finishing school, therefore, there may be one of them near you. It is easy to identify a child with a broken leg. Many people will approach them and offer help. It is very hard to identify a child with a broken heart though. If you know any, be aware that you can do many things for this child. It is easy to identify a child with a broken leg. Many people will approach her to offer support or help. But it is difficult to identify a heartbroken. If you know one, you know that there are a number of things you can do for her. First, do not be afraid of saying or doing something wrong. A good rule is “the simpler the better”: “I’m sorry” “I met her (insert name of person) and he / she was (insert affectionate adjective or a personal history). You can also offer the family to distract the child and take her to wander when everyone needs a rest. Offer to babysit, take her to the movies or to play with other children. Do this not only in the first week, but for weeks or months, to show that she is important to you.
2. Children want to know the truth – Remember when you were little and I was sure there was a monster under the bed? Because when people do not tell the truth to the children, they fill the gaps of the facts with your imagination. And usually they make the worst reality and may even think that what happened is their fault.
Be honest with them means listening (more than talk) to find out what is m your mind, answer your questions and give appropriate information to their age – the smaller, fewer and simpler are the words. Children do not necessarily need all the details but want to answer this question: “How did my special someone died?” It may have been difficult or tragic, or still a medical mystery. But there will always be a version that can be said, even if it is “She was sick, doctors tried many remedies, but they could not cure it.”
3. Children know more than you think – Children are egocentric beings. They think it’s all about them. So they are always around when adults talk. Seek information on the internet, hear neighbors whisper, pick up someone blurted out. Soon learn they can trust to help them. When their world is turned upside down they need someone who can understand their feelings, work things out and provide security. In fact, the child already knows that something terrible has happened, so be open and available, it will be a relief. Some children may be quiet and do not want to talk, but at least you will already have paved the way and laid the groundwork for when they are ready.
4. Children are not mini-adults and will not have a mini-version of grieving– these feelings’ come in so many different ways. They may cry or be quiet. But can also get angry, make tantrum or go on to have problems at school. Some typical behaviors of grieving are expected, such as sadness, worry and anger. Some children need extra care, but most of them are resilient and adequately warm, learn, although too early, powerful life lessons on their own strength and generosity of others. When a child begins to behave alarmingly, ask yourself if this behavior is not related to the experience of loss. cannot do their homework? Refuses to go to sleep? No matter what the problem or change behavior, avoid judging or reprimanding. Ask for help at school or seek professional help to identify what the new behavior attitudes are related to the loss of the loved one. Offering support and understanding is more important than forcing her to do homework or go to bed early.
5. Children need examples – Adults often think that should protect children from hard feelings or hide them your feelings. The problem is that this way you teach them to hide their feelings, causing the pain of grief seek shortcuts or collection in some secret place inside. See this pain manifest explosively is only a matter of time.
Help more if children can witness their true feelings and see how you deal with them. This means that bereaved adults can cry in front of children (saving the desperate cries, calling for more private spaces). Show that even if you ever go missing person and be sad from time to time, there is hope that the sadness will decrease and that there are ways to feel better – take a walk, read, call a friend, write a diary , to draw. Children need different expressions for their feelings. Help them to find the one that is best for them.
6. Children internally change from the death of a loved one and become different from all his friends – It’s great to be known as the kid who plays football well or girl who is the best in math class but not as ” child whose father is dead. ” Be the person who understands this and help her find a place where they can meet other children who have suffered losses, to swap stories and experiences and feel less lonely.