Coping with the loss of a loved one can be difficult to deal with, particularly for toddlers and preschoolers who may not fully understand death or understand why family members are so sad. Younger kids express their grief in a number of different ways, such as acting out, regressing to immature behavior or showing a lack of feelings because of shock. It’s important to teach your child healthy coping mechanisms for dealing with grief so that he learns to manage uncomfortable emotions instead of suppressing them. Engaging in activities such as arts and crafts or physical activity and reading books about dealing with grief can help your child understand the meaning of loss and how to continue enjoying life.
Stories About Grieving and Loss
Your little one could benefit greatly from hearing stories about dealing with grief and loss. Toddlers and preschoolers use their active imaginations to connect with storybook characters and learn how to do things in life. "Brightest Star" by Kathleen Maresh Hemery and "Sunflowers and Rainbows for Tia" are a couple of books recommended by Scholastic, although there are others from which you can choose. Seeing other characters experiencing similar grief and loss shows your little one that she is not the only person who has lost someone special to her.
Arts and Crafts
Arts and crafts are another tool that you can use to help your little one deal with grief. Your tot could draw images of experiences that he and a lost loved one have shared, or you could help your tot create a collage with lots of pictures, favorite activities and other memories of your loved one that your child may have. Coloring with your child can foster a comforting environment that allows him to express his feelings about losing someone special. Drawing different emotional expressions and teaching your child how to handle difficult emotions, such as sadness, can also help him identify emotions and learn how to manage them.
It's helpful to teach your child healthy coping strategies for grieving while she's still young, such as allowing physical exercise to improve her emotional state. HealthGuide.org simply states that when you feel good physically, then you'll feel better emotionally. Accompany your child to the local playground or on a bike ride through a beautiful nature trail. This actively teaches your child that she doesn't have to lie around in bed or stop living her life due to circumstances that are beyond her control.
Memorial or Tribute
You and your child can create a memorial or a tribute for your lost loved one. Plant a plant or tree in the back yard and decorate it with pictures of your friend or family member. Arrange a space in your home that is designed to honor the memory of your deceased loved one and keep him close to everyone's hearts. If you lost your beloved friend or family member to a terminal illness, KidsHealth.org suggests that you and your tot participate in fundraising activities with organizations that may be associated with the death of your loved one.
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