The death of a parent, family member, friend, or even a pet can be devastating for a child. But not only that, because there are other types of situations that can generate similar, traumatic sensations , such as the separation of parents, a divorce, a change of residence, an illness or an accident of any kind.




All these situations can fall within the normality, within those setbacks that from time to time appear in life, but the truth is that in childhood there are fewer tools to face it, that is why the little ones need help older when any of this happens . Fortunately, there are certain actions that can be carried out by parents, family members or even teachers at school to help children “ cope with loss or trauma ”, and precisely this last sentence is one of the keys to begin that On the way, the assumption that these types of situations are not overcome, but that you learn to live with them forever.



How we can help children in these cases


  • Acknowledge the child’s pain through loving, comforting words, kind actions, and unconditional support. Whenever possible, coordinate with the family (if you are not part of it) the fact that you can and will receive consistent messages. It helps parents see that protecting a child from the truth can have negative consequences , such as increasing confusion, fear, or resentment. Together, help the child to face reality using simple and direct language such as, “died” (if this is the case), and not “went to sleep” or “gone.”


  • Show understanding by being compassionate and offering your calm and quiet presence. If the child shares an emotion, reflect and validate it by repeating the feeling. For example, you can say: “That is very sad or must have been very difficult”, instead of saying “I know how you feel.” We must bear in mind that this is not useful because one can never really know the pain of another . Use books if you need to properly inform yourself about loss and trauma in children, they can surely serve as a guide.


  • Assure your child that feelings of shock, sadness, loneliness, anger, anxiety, fear, and guilt are normal reactions to pain. At this point you should also expect certain new behaviors and provide a safe emotional outlet for negative feelings. These can include activities such as breaking worthless things (like old magazines), hitting a pillow, scribbling on paper, modeling and crushing clay or play dough, writing feelings, yelling or crying. Let the child know that it is natural to feel angry, but that it is NEVER okay to hurt others by taking advantage of that anger.




  • It offers productive options for the child to participate in activities designed to aid in the healing process . These can be: writing, reading, telling stories , making crafts, planting a tree, making a memory book or a treasure box, paying tributes… etc.


  • Accept that each child’s experience with loss or trauma is unique and that their reactions will be intense and changing, as well as different, but that they always require rest. A grieving child will often need to rest and participate in play and leisure activities, as the emotions related to loss or trauma are very powerful and psychologically draining. As a child goes through the developmental stages of life, these feelings will often resurface, but it is a question of having already acquired certain tools to be able to “cope” in a better way. In any case nothing should ever be forced, because attempts to speed up the healing process in cases of this type can be harmful .


  • If it’s an extremely serious case that doesn’t seem to be moving forward, feel free to seek out support groups that face and work with similar circumstances. A group can provide acceptance, companionship, and an environment in which emotions and concerns can be freely expressed . If there are prolonged periods of change in the child’s temperament, diet, sleep, and / or interests, it may require additional professional care, which is entirely normal and not only is there nothing wrong with it, but it is highly recommended.

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