Everyone is affected by loss differently, and it is likely that your children will have unique ways to handle grief. For parents, it isn't easy to know how to handle those hard topics like grief and coping. While you do not want a child to feel like they are alone, at the same time, you do not want to confuse or overwhelm them. It is important to be able to recognize signs of depression in children. Keep reading to learn a few dos and don'ts to help a child who is grieving.
Do Ensure They Know It's Okay to Express How They Feel
It is not uncommon for some kids to be embarrassed about sharing how they feel. Other children may look at sharing their feelings as a sign of them being weak. Unfortunately, holding in emotions will only lead to more problems, so it is important that you let your child know that it is okay to share how they are feeling. In some cases, expressing grief may mean to shed some tears. Make sure that you are present to help them and offer them various outlets for expression, such as drawing and music, to alleviate some of the stress that they are experiencing.
Don't Downplay Depression
In some cases, grieving may be indicative of a deeper issue at hand, especially if it occurs for an extended period of time. Depression in children is incredibly troubling, and you want to ensure that it does not go untreated. If you notice that your child is losing interest in their hobbies, withdrawing from social situations, feeling hopeless, or suffering from irregular mood swings, you should contact a child psychologist and schedule an appointment. He or she will evaluate your child for depression, and if a diagnosis is made, he or she will help your child with the recovery process.
Do Give Them Some Space
In some instances, children will want to be alone to grieve. If needed, make sure to give them some privacy. If you crowd them, it could keep them from properly processing their thoughts, coping, or reaching understanding. In the event that they choose to spend their privacy in their room, simply leave them be. As a general rule, once your child is ready to speak and needs your help, they will reach out to you.
Don't Make Assumptions
It may be a bit counterproductive to simply assume that your child is going to cope and heal in the same way that you do as an adult. So, it is important that you don't force them to deal with grief or think that you know the best way to handle things. For instance, it can be problematic to push religious beliefs on children, particularly teens. By assuming that younger kids are unable to handle the truth can also cause issues. In the event that your child becomes confused, make sure that you are direct and speak to your child about their feelings and needs before you end up offering solutions.
For more information, schedule an appointment with a child psychologist in your area.