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