How to Help a Grieving Child Learn to Build Resilience
Navigating through grief is hard work, especially for children. It intrudes on all aspects of their lives, challenging their thinking and how they cope with difficult thoughts and emotions. Children often struggle to adapt to this new normal. It takes patience, persistence, and the support of loved ones to get children through periods of grief.
How to Help Grieving Kids Build Resilience – Hand Them a Shovel
As adults, we often want to protect children from pain and hardship. However, in our attempt to shield kids emotionally, we can end up acting like a snowplow- stepping in front of all challenges and obstacles that come up in life. Unfortunately, being the snowplow does not help children in the long term. In fact, it only hurts them—especially when it comes to grief. In instances of loss, it’s important to provide honesty so children can fully grasp the situation at hand. Understand that children cannot, and should not, be dissuaded from expressing emotions during this time.
There is no quick fix or easy solution when it comes to grief. A complex emotion that should be embraced rather than avoided, grief needs to be felt to be understood. So, rather than plowing away the hardships and adversities our children face, hand them a shovel. Teach them how to dig themselves out of the challenges they will face for the rest of their lives.
Tips for Teaching Kids to Grow Through Their Grief
There are several ways to encourage your kids to follow their feelings and better gauge their grief. Don’t try to fix it or clear the way. Your job is to check in regularly, see how they are doing, offer support, and help when appropriate. Some kids may just need a shoulder to cry on, and that’s okay.
Helping children keep perspective is another way to build their resilience and grow emotionally. Discuss former adversities and how they’ve shaped them into the person they are today. Tragedy does not define us, but it can inspire us. Encouraging conversation about these past challenges and outcomes can alleviate some hardship and build much-needed perspective.
If you use these techniques and the child is really struggling, it may be appropriate to have them talk to an outside resource.
Use Support from Good Grief
Healing and growing from grief takes time, energy, and effort, but it doesn’t have to happen alone. Our peer support groups equip children with the skillset to process their feelings and fears, speak up for themselves, build resilience, and a sense of hopefulness for the future. Contact us to learn more.