Children’s Grief: What to look for, What to do

Even if the loss happened many years ago, children and teens re-experience grief at each developmental stage of their young lives. Adults can help by paying attention, being available to talk, showing support.

Grief in Children, ages 6-12 – what to look for, what to do

Grief Cues for Children How to be with Children in Grief
  1. Acting out, angry outbursts
  2. Physical reactions—recurring sickness, allergies, stomach aches, headaches
  3. Changes in sleep patterns, nightmares or bad dreams
  4. Regressive Behavior
  5. Obsessive or repetitive behaviors that seem odd in the circumstance
  6. Lack of interest in usual activities
  7. Eating Problems or Disorders
  8. Crying easily
  9. Problems with concentration or focus
  10. Refusal to talk or emotional withdrawal
  1. Assure them that those helping love them and will keep them safe.
  2. Keep routines consistent, which provides a safe predictable environment
  3. Set reasonable, consistent boundaries to provide a sense of safety
  4. Provide recreation–this enables children to have fun and take a break from grieving
  5. Provide healthy snacks, meals—their bodies are grieving, too.
  6. Care for and accept them as they are
  7. Tell the truth and answer their questions honestly, with age-appropriate words
  8. Help them create memory rituals, talk about the person and recall stories
  9. Acknowledge their loss of focus and interest
  10. Reflect back what they say without judgment; ask them questions as they try to make sense of what happened.

Downloadable PDF Children’s Grief – what to look for what to do