Strategies to Help Children Through Painful Times
Strategies To Help Children Through Painful Times
Prepared by Annemarie Bezold, LCSW Coordinator, Fairfax County Grief Program
Offer them reassurance and support.
- Let them know you will be there for them.
- Tell them that they will not have to go through this alone.
Give them extra time and attention.
- Spend time just being with them.
- Physical closeness may be helpful initially.
Cultivate an environment of openness to the expression of all feelings.
- Let them know that feelings aren’t right or wrong.
- Tell them that there are healthy ways to deal with painful feelings
Explain and answer questions honestly.
- Don’t avoid using words like death, died.
- Don’t be afraid to admit that ‘you don’t know'
Provide structure and continuity in their daily routines.
- Set appropriate limits while being patient and understanding.
- Maintaining their usual daily routine is important.
Expect some regression.
- Acting as they did when they were younger is normal.
- Children may need transitional objects and more comfort at bedtime
Listen to their fears and concerns.
- Let them know that no topic is ‘off limits’ to you.
- Don’t minimize feelings or avoid uncomfortable topics.
Allow them to tell and re-tell their experience.
- Reassure them you don’t mind hearing it over and over.
- Keep in mind that this is how they process the experience and move on.
Encourage time to play.
- Play relieves stress for children (allows them to reenact the experience).
Try a variety of techniques to help them creatively process their experience.
- Drawing pictures; writing poems or stories; or creating collages are examples.
Work to improve their self-esteem.
- Identify their good qualities, talents and strengths.
Help them begin to develop a hopeful image of themselves.
- Remind them of the progress they have made so far.
- Help them visualize themselves recovering and moving on.