Grieving Child needs a Parent's Tender Guidance
The senseless, evil Connecticut shootings have parents asking, "How do I help my child grieve?" Remember these 2 general rules:
1) Children grieve differently than adults and
2) They'll struggle with grief both now and in the future.
I was contacted after the tragic Columbine shootings years ago; now I'm being asked to offer ways to help parents guide their children through this sudden grief.
The Newtown kindergartners probably don't yet "get" death - they can't fathom its permanency. Young children may think dead people continue to eat, drink, and go to the bathroom in Heaven.
- Increased dependency on or clinging to parents/grandparents.
- More tantrums.
- Bed wetting or constipation.
- Prepared for resistance to bedtime or going to school.
- Limiting the news; viewing this tragedy can feed more fears
- Consistency in the household routines, bedtimes, and mealtimes. Children feel safer when their life is comfortably predictable.
Grieving is unique and personal to each individual - parent or child. I encourage parents to reach out for help through this tragic, sudden loss by accessing community, church, family, and friend support.
The Mourning Handbook: The Most Complete Resource Offering Practical and Compassionate Advice on Coping with All Aspects of Death and Dying, by Helen Fitzgerald is a helpful resource.
Do you have other tips or insights to offer parents? Feel free to leave your comment below.