When a relative dies, it can be difficult for children and teenagers to process what has happened. They don’t always know how to express their feelings or grasp the situation due to their age. As their parent, it’s important to know how to help kids and teens cope with grief to ensure they can heal and move on as much as possible.
Here are a few ways you can help your children cope with their grief:
Don’t Minimize or Dismiss Their Feelings
One of the most common mistakes parents make when it comes to helping teens and kids cope with grief is to minimize their feelings. It can be easy to try and make your child think it’s not a big deal, but this can make them feel like something is wrong with the way they’re feeling and coping with the situation. Avoid telling them that everything happens for a reason. This won’t validate how they feel and can cause them to put walls up. Instead, acknowledge their emotions and talk about how you feel the same to ensure they have a safe place to open up.
Ask Open-Ended Questions
You can encourage your child to open up about how they’re feeling by asking open-ended questions. This will allow them to share what they’re experiencing and feel more comfortable opening up to you instead of responding with yes or no answers. Be patient as you wait for them to respond and allow them to take their time to prevent them from feeling rushed.
Maintain a Routine
Children find safety and security in their routine, making it necessary to stay consistent with your child’s schedule. Try to keep their bedtime the same and avoid making any drastic changes in their life like relocating to a new home or having them change schools.
Encourage Healthy Habits
Encouraging healthy habits can make it easier for children to cope with grief. For example, help them to practice breathing techniques when they become anxious or stressed due to the experience they’ve gone through. You can also buy them a journal that they can use for jotting down their feelings and emotions as they go through each stage of grief. This can be therapeutic and allow them to feel like they have a safe place to unload everything.
Maintaining a healthy diet and promoting exercise throughout the week can also lift their spirits and improve their mood. Try to encourage your child to ride their bike, skateboard, play basketball, or even join a sports league they can enjoy that will help them to stay physically active, which will release endorphins.
Playing music or an instrument can also be therapeutic and will allow them to have a way to express themselves as they heal.
With the right tips and techniques practiced, you can help your child or teen cope with grief and learn how to feel like themselves again. You can encourage healthy ways of moving on to ensure it’s something that makes them stronger as they grow and develop. At Hospice of the Piedmont, we offer grief services for children and teens.