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How Children Experience a Loss


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Children may begin to act out their feelings instead of talking about them. It is important that the parent or adult in the child's life let them know that acting out is not acceptable, but talking is the most appropriate way to express themselves. Children will need to be encouraged to share what they are feeling. At times family counseling may be necessary to help the child learn to share what they are feeling.

There may also be changes in sleep and eating patterns. This is also a symptom of depression. It is very easy for a child to slip into a depression during a time of loss and grief. There are depression treatments for children that might help them to cope with their grief as well. The changes in sleeping and eating patterns can go either way. Either they are sleeping too much or not at all. The same can be true of eating.

Their behaviors may regress to a younger age. A child may begin bed-wetting or thumb sucking while they are dealing with a loss. It is important for adults to understand why this behavior is occurring.

Schoolwork may suffer during this time also. It will be difficult for a child who is experiencing a loss to concentrate on their schoolwork. It might be helpful to discuss the problem with your child's teacher so that they will understand the reason for the lack of concentration during school.

Children can benefit from help from a counselor during this time. Look for a therapist that is trained in mood disorders, depression treatments and grief coping strategies for children. Finding a therapist that is experienced working with children is important for your child to get the most appropriate treatment available.

Always discuss these feelings openly and honestly with your child. Parents who are suffering a loss as well might find that it is difficult to cope with their child's grief while they are experiencing grief as well. That is why a therapist will be able to help all members of the family during this difficult time.

Children watch the adults in their life to determine how they should behave. That is why it is so important that you talk about how you are feeling during a loss. Let them know that you are sad and they will understand that it is all right to feel that way.

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Julia Sorensen is the author of “Overcoming Loss Stories and Activities to Help Children Transform Grief and Loss" Published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers:

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