Tips to Support Children Impacted by Death
As highlighted in the news yesterday, a child tragically died at one of Philadelphia’s schools. The death of a child or community member affects us all as a city. Our thoughts go out to all of those grieving the loss, as well as other losses of children, friends, and family members many have experienced over the last year. When someone dies, many emotions and feelings surface for both children and adults. As a way of supporting the Philadelphia community, we here at The Center wanted to provide tips for parents, caregivers, and other caring adults who are supporting children impacted by death:
1. Open the Lines of Communication with Your Child: Being honest, clear, and available for your child is important in creating a safe and supportive environment. Death can create uncertainty and fear in children, so allowing them to ask questions and talk about their feelings is important. Seeking clarity in what your child already knows or understands will allow you to clarify any miscommunication and help with directing the conversation.
2. Check in with Yourself and Your Own Feelings about the Death: Children take cues from the adults in their lives about how to react to situations especially surrounding a death. Being a good role model for your child is important, so making sure you understand how it is impacting you is essential.
3. Be Mindful of the Exposure to Media Coverage: Media coverage can heighten concern and worry for a child even if you do not think they are watching, listening or paying attention. Children often absorb and hear more information than we are aware. Limit the amount of media coverage and graphic images your child is exposed to on television and the internet.
4. Be Patient: Children often express themselves through their behavior and play. Use age appropriate ways to talk with your child about death and reassure them.
5. Seek Outside Assistance if Needed: If you are concerned about your child’s ability to cope with the death, it’s interfering with daily routines and/or their emotions are overwhelming, find a trained therapist or counselor to support your child. You may want to speak with a health professional who can direct you to a trained professional.