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Grief and Loss Issues in ElementaryAge Children

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At any given time, half of the children in your classroom may be affected by ... Be watchful for events that may trigger more intense feelings e.g. holidays, ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Grief and Loss Issues in ElementaryAge Children


1
Grief and Loss Issues in Elementary-Age Children
  • Chippewa Valley Schools

Information for Teachers
2
  • If children are old enough to love,
  • they are old enough to grieve.

3
Why is it important for teachers to know
about Grief and Loss?
4
At any given time, half of the children in your
classroom may be affected by some kind of loss.
5
Losses Children Grieve
  • Death of someone significant
  • Illness of an important person
  • Parental separation/divorce
  • Family move
  • Parental addiction
  • Parental incarceration
  • Loss of a loved pet

6
Grieving in Childhood
  • Grief responses can be acute or subtle
    and hard to observe.
  • Children tend to grieve sporadically, in
    unpredictable bursts.
  • Grief issues may re-emerge at later developmental
    stages.
  • Grieving is more complicated after a
    sudden or traumatic loss.

7
Common Grief Reactions in Children
  • Sadness
  • Anger
  • Lowered self-esteem
  • Guilt
  • Fears
  • Insecurity
  • Denial
  • Relief

8
Behaviors You Might Observe
  • Acting out behaviors
  • Agitation
  • Withdrawal
  • Physical complaints/fatigue
  • Regression to younger behaviors
  • Separation problems/ clinging
  • Poor concentration
  • Inconsistent school performance
  • Decreased work production

9
  • Each childs grief experience is unique.

10
Childrens Perception of Death
11
Preschool Through 1st Grade
  • Death is not seen as final
  • Dead thought of as ghosts
  • Magical thinking

12
2nd Grade Through 5th Grade
  • Increased awareness that people die
  • View death as happening only to others
  • May feel they caused the death
  • Interested in the physical aspects of death

13
  • One in twenty children will have a parent die
    before s/he graduates from high school.

Many more children will lose some other
significant person (sibling, other family member,
or friend) to death.
14
What can teachers do?
15
Gain Information
  • After hearing about the loss
  • Contact the family
  • Gather accurate information
  • Determine how the student is coping with the loss
  • Discuss what information should be shared with
    the class
  • Ask about funeral arrangements
  • Offer to be of assistance

16
Provide a Supportive Environment
  • Prior to the childs return to school, share
    factual information with the class
  • Answer students questions directly while staying
    within their capacity to understand
  • Provide them with the opportunity to share their
    feelings

17
Provide a Supportive Environment
  • Create an opportunity for students to reach out
    to their grieving classmate, e.g. condolence
    cards
  • Brainstorm with the class acceptable statements
    of sympathy

18
Support the Grieving Child
  • Speak to the child privately to offer your
    support
  • Listen. Allow the child to express his/her
    feelings
  • Reduce school work as needed
  • Be watchful for events that may trigger more
    intense feelings e.g. holidays, anniversary of
    death, etc.

19
Support the Grieving Child
  • Understand that grieving is a long process
  • Remember that the grieving child does not
    always look sad
  • Recognize that acting out behaviors may be a way
    of expressing distress

20
  • Children may not remember what you say, but they
    will never forget how you make them feel.

21
Increasing numbers of children face significant
and sometimes multiple losses. Besides the death
of a significant person, these losses may include
illness of a family member, parental separation
or divorce, family moves, etc.
22
When to be Concerned
  • Be concerned if a child
  • Evidences dramatic change
  • Displays prolonged depression, anger, or
    withdrawal
  • Exhibits dramatic decline in school work for an
    extensive period
  • Makes suicidal statements

Alert parents, administrators, school social
worker, counselor, and/or psychologist.
23
What if a student needs more help?
24
Resources
  • Your building social worker, counselor, or
    psychologist can provide you more information
  • strategies for supporting the grieving child
  • classroom activities
  • referral information
  • resource materials for children and parents

25
Resources
  • Your building crisis team can assist in the
    management of an acute crisis situation.

26
Outside Resource
  • SandCastles
  • Hospices of Henry Ford Health System
  • Ongoing grief support program for children and
    their families who have experienced the death of
    a significant person
  • Meets at Chippewa Valley High School
  • Free of Charge
  • For more information contact 313- 874-6881

27
  • As a teacher you have the opportunity to touch
    childrens lives in a very special way. Your
    actions can have a life-long impact.

28
  • This information has been provided by the
  • Chippewa Valley Schools
  • District Crisis Coordinating Team
  • whose mission is to support district staff and
    building crisis teams in crisis response efforts.
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