As a parent, one of the first things you’ll be teaching your child is the concept of heaven and life after death. While the concept of an afterlife can provide children some comfort, it doesn’t stop them from having anxieties about death. And at some points in their life, they will experience grief first-hand. When your child ever experiences the death of a pet, friend, or loved one or hears about something profoundly tragic in the news, it’s important to help them process the event and their emotions.
While there’s no right or wrong way to deal with grief, there are signs that tell you that it’s being processed poorly or negatively. For instance, shutting people off, not talking for days, getting angry or easily irritated, or being indifferent can signify that they choose not to deal with it to save themselves from the pain.
While delayed grief can happen to many people, it can lead to serious problems if left unchecked. For some teenagers, it can lead to eating disorders that can cause other issues like impotence. While you can easily seek the most effective ED treatment to address it, there are preventive measures you can take.
Human emotions and experiences are best taught at a young age so that kids grow up with realistic expectations. But it’s important to tread carefully. Below are a few tips on how you can help your kid understand and better deal with grief.
Encourage open communication at home
A child who’s afraid to express their feelings will have trouble expressing their grief. Whenever your kid gets upset or sad about anything, it’s important that you encourage them to talk about it. Likewise, you should also be a good role model and openly discuss your feelings with your kids. By establishing open communication at home, your kids will grow up to be more empathetic and in tune with their emotions. Talking is a big part of coping with grief. Be it going over memories of a loved one or just expressing painful feelings, talking helps keep feelings of isolation at bay.
Teach your kids it’s okay to cry
For a busy parent, a crying kid can sometimes be a nuisance. On some days, you’d tell them to stop crying or get angry. But doing this often can lead your child to think that it’s not OK to cry when they have or want to. Crying is the most normal and organic response to frustration and sorrow.
But it’s also healthy in that it helps reduce stress. Suppressed emotions can lead to illnesses and conditions such as hypertension, chest pains, digestive issues, anxiety, insomnia, and depression. So if you ever find your kid crying and you feel the urge to make them stop, take a step back and assess the situation. If it doesn’t stop, ask your kid instead why they’re crying, and let them talk about it.
Read stories of pain and loss
There are many children’s books that talk about death and grief in a way your kids will understand. Instead of just giving them books about happiness and other positive experiences, it’s also important to expose them to sad events. Children’s books like The Invisible String, The Goodbye Book, and Ida, Always are touching books about the pain of losing someone you love.
You can also read to them Bible verses about the loss and death of a loved one. If they have questions about it, make sure you answer them properly. You can also have them watch age-appropriate shows and movies where grief is part of the story, like Up, Coco, Lion King, and Big Hero 6.
Consider grief counseling
When the time comes when your child experiences loss and grief first-hand, the responsibility of helping them cope doesn’t have to be all yours, especially if you lost the same person. This is where support from friends and family will be constructive. But you can also consider getting help from a professional therapist specializing in child psychology or family counseling. A psychologist can be an objective outsider who will provide you with a better understanding of your kid’s specific situation and tools to help them cope.
As a parent, questions about loss and grief can sometimes make you uncomfortable. And when your child gets sad or afraid after learning the truth, you’d feel a pang of guilt for bursting their little bubble that was once filled with fun, games, and fairy tales. But this small sacrifice will pay off one day when your child grows up into a teenager or adult who can handle their emotions and process life events without resorting to destructive behavior.