Helping Children Deal with Grief
Resources for Dealing with Grief
Grief is often characterized by sadness, emotional pain, and introspection in adults. However, children’s grief reactions differ according to age and developmental level:
Preschool - Regressive behaviors, decreased verbalization, increased anxiety
Elementary - Decreased academic performance, attention/concentration, and attendance; irritability, aggression, and disruptive behaviors; somatic complaints; sleep/eating disturbances; social withdrawal; guilt, depression, and anxiety; repeated re-telling of the event
Middle and High School - Decreased academic performance, attention/concentration, and attendance; avoidance, withdrawal, high risk behaviors or substance abuse, difficulty with peer relations, nightmares, flashbacks, emotional numbing or depression
Grieving is a normal response to loss, but may require some support. Here are some resources that may help you and your child:
1. Facts and tips on addressing grief...broken down by age groups
National Association of School Psychologists resource
2. Insightful podcast (with transcript) on the intersection of grief and worship
Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation resource
3. Consider ways to help grieving children into your community, offering them space to grieve their losses and find comfort and hope in Jesus.
4. It might be hard enough for adults to go through the grieving process — one thing that could make it even tougher is to try to help children walk through it as well. Here are some of the best Christian books to help children answer the questions they have with appropriate age designations.
List of Christian Books on Grief for Adults and Children
70 Percent of Kids In Sports Quit By Their Teens—Here’s How (and Why) To Keep Them In the Game
There are so many benefits of playing sports in childhood, including boosts in physical health and social and emotional skills. However, about 70 percent of kids stop playing sports by age 13, says a poll from the National Alliance for Youth Sports. The reason? “It’s just not fun anymore.”
Amanda Visek, a professor at George Washington University, has designed a comprehensive research project to map out what kids think is “fun” or “not fun” about playing sports—and the answers are far from what adults tend to expect. Rather than defining fun as goofing off, the young sports players in the research study defined fun in 81 different ways, and the three most important categories were “being a good sport,” “positive coaching,” and “trying hard.”
Visek also researched what kids feel takes the fun out of sports, and some of the most prevalent answers had to do with unwanted parent behaviors (such as putting too much pressure on athletes, or yelling at coaches or officials during games) and unwanted coaching behaviors.
Julianna Miner, a parent of three, agrees that pressure from adults is a major factor in kids quitting sports. She writes in the Washington Post, “Our culture no longer supports older kids playing for the fun of it. The pressure to raise ‘successful’ kids means that we expect them to be the best. If they’re not, they’re encouraged to cut their losses and focus on areas where they can excel.”
Unfortunately, this attitude leads to many kids missing out on crucial life skills that can be developed from being on a sports team—and these can be even more important for girls. “Sports, and particularly team sports, tend to give women and girls things that they otherwise have a hard time getting, like resilience, grit, knowledge of teamwork, knowledge of leadership,” argued Debora Spar, a professor at Harvard Business School.
So how can parents prevent kids from being driven away from sports?
One of Visek’s top tips, as told to the Way of Champions podcast, is to really “listen to what the kid wants … fostering their own sense of autonomy, giving them choice. Not making them play soccer or football because you played it, not living vicariously through our own kids.” In addition, she recommends keeping things positive, providing encouragement and support, and asking kids what they’re learning and what is rewarding about playing.
Miner also points out that “There is a clear push for kids to specialize and achieve at the highest possible level,” even though “early specialization can be harmful in terms of long-term injuries, and it does little to increase one’s overall chances of later collegiate or professional success.” Visek agrees that “sports specialization gets you nowhere fast.”
So rather than worrying about your child finding the best sport and sticking with it until they become masters, a more beneficial approach would be to let them try new things for the fun of it, and to think about many different ways to stay active and practice a range of movements.
Originally written by Joanna Eng and published here:
7 Calming Anger and Anxiety Coping Skills For Tweens
Is your kid old enough now that they’d just roll their eyes if you tried to suggest something like, “Let’s take five deep breaths together” when they’re upset? It’s time to learn some new coping mechanisms that are more age appropriate, and that cut through the resistance when they’re clearly angry or anxious but just don’t want your help—or don’t want to admit they do.
These seven options help your older child deal with negative emotions in healthier ways. With these more advanced coping mechanisms, your kid is less likely to feel like they’re being patronized or misunderstood—and more likely to feel better.
7 Options for Helping an Upset Teen/Tween Cope
1. Provide hands-on tools, without the pressure
Sometimes kids don’t want to admit they want your help, because the added pressure from you stresses them out even more. Try suggesting a hands-on calming activity, then step away so they can decide to try it without you watching them or lecturing about its benefits.
Say: “Here, I left some bubble wrap and these new drawing pens here for you. Just in case you need a good distraction.”
Then give them some space and quiet. After they’ve calmed their nerves or anger a bit, you can see if they’re ready to talk.
2. Tell an inner secret
Start telling your child about a time when you had a really strong emotion and what you did about it. It helps demonstrate that you’re human and you’ve dealt with difficult things too.
Say something like: “Once I was really angry at your dad and just wanted to get away and think, so I ended up walking all the way across town, but then I was so far away and so hungry that I had to call him to come pick me up.”
3. Literally change the soundtrack
Music can be a great calming or mood-boosting tool, but you might not know what your child wants to listen to. So try to use a little humor and distraction to get them there: Start playing a song that you like but you know your kid will make fun of, or a goofy song that your kid loved as a toddler, or even a cheesy “relaxing ambiance” video.
Say: “I know you probably hate this song, but it’s what I listen to when I’m feeling down. Here, change it to whatever you want.”
4. Fact-check negative thoughts
If your child’s brain is blaring something emotion-based like, “I’m going to make a fool of myself during my presentation today,” of course they’ll feel nervous and upset going into their day. But it’s important to remember that their thoughts are not facts.
Say: “What evidence do you have for or against that thought? Let’s make a list of only the facts.”
5. Play “What’s the worst that could happen?”
This is another way to give your child a reality check, and can also provide a creative outlet for them to express themselves. Once they have a grasp on the worst outcome that they’re afraid of, they can realize that not only is that probably not going to happen, but even if it did happen, they’d survive.
Say: “Sometimes when I’m feeling anxious it helps when I ask myself: What’s the worst thing that could happen? And then I write down or voice-record an over-the-top story about how horrible everything could go. Feel free to share it with me if you want, or just toss it.”
6. Switch parent/child roles
After a child has gotten some space and calmed down, one way to talk about how to improve behavior next time is to ask hypothetical questions and even try a little role play. This kind of prompt can help them get out of their own head and see the bigger picture.
Say: “If you were the parent and I was the kid, what would you do if I came home and started yelling and pushing my brother and slamming the doors, and wouldn’t tell anyone what was wrong?”
7. Model setting a concrete goal
If your teen or tween seems stuck in an unhealthy pattern of expressing (or not expressing) their emotions, it could help if they set a specific goal or intention, like only saying kind words to a sibling. But take it one day at a time to start.
Say: “Why don’t we each set a goal for the day, and we can check in with each other later? My goal is to look at people when I’m talking so I don’t have to yell across the house. So feel free to remind me if I forget.”
At CCS, we endeavor to create a comfortable and enjoyable approach to education for every grade level.
Originally written by Joanna Eng and published here:
Teaching Kids How to be Humble
The growth of humility in your child's life will lead to positive development in many other areas of their character and relationships.
Scripture shows us which characteristics are most important in our lives and the lives of our children. Based on scripture, one characteristic that is foundational to the development of all other healthy relational and developmental traits in the life of a well-adjusted, connected, and genuinely loving child is humility. Teaching kids how to be humble in our world is critical to positive child development.
Roots of Humility
When you meet a genuinely humble person, you instinctively understand that they care about people around them regardless of race, sex, or socioeconomic status. Interestingly, the word humility comes from the word humus. If you have a garden, you know humus is the part of soil that is necessary for the growth and strengthening of plants. It provides the environment for deep-rooted growth.
Scriptures on Humility
There are many scriptures on humility throughout the Bible. Scripture emphasizes the importance of humility and its ability to create that deep-rooted growth in many places. James writes that God gives grace to the humble and opposes the proud (James 4:6). The Bible also says it is our responsibility to humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand and to foster a humble heart (1 Peter 5:6).
Importance of Humility For Our Kids
Where humility is lacking, selfishness, anxiety, pride, and insecurities abound. Teaching kids to understand their thoughts, longings, desires, and emotions helps them observe why they do the things they do. More importantly, establishing a life or culture of prayer in your home is an excellent starting point to soften the heart and train it toward humility.
Humility in a child’s life includes learning to:
- serve others
- take time for self-reflection
- desire growth
- be honest
- see life through a lens of invitations rather than inconveniences
- see endless possibilities to love others rather than criticize
- want the best for others
- manage emotions
7 Tips For Teaching Kids How to Be Humble
Humility leads a child toward becoming a contributor rather than a consumer as they grow and mature. Here are seven quick tips:
1. Foster a Culture of Listening First
Help your children understand that people crave to be known. Learn to discern the core desires in others.
2. Learn To Exercise and Grow in Empathy Toward Life
Parents can begin to teach humility from the time their children are infants.
3. Foster a Mindset That Sees Invitations Rather Than Inconveniences
Opportunities to engage and serve others can be embraced as invitations rather than dreaded as inconveniences.
4. Practice a Culture of Gratitude
Look around as a family and intentionally talk about what you’re thankful for.
5. Model and Encourage a Culture of Respect
Respect each other’s unique ideas, emotions, and interests by noticing and learning to live well together in those differences.
6. Fuel Others Through Words of Encouragement
Words can be life-giving. Children can learn to genuinely encourage others without feeling the threat of losing their own value in the process.
7. Celebrate Opportunities to Serve
Map out ways you can serve within your family and in your neighborhood, school, or community. Take time to celebrate a culture of service in your home.
The growth of humility in your child’s life will lead to positive development in many other areas of their character and relationships. Take time each day to model and invest in this trait and teach your kids to be humble as you engage with them.
At CCS, we use our Sea Star Program to support and encourage qualities such as humility at school and at home.
This post was originally written by Danny Huerta PsyD, MSW, LCSW, LSSW and published here: https://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/teaching-kids-how-to-be-humble/