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Children And Grief

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Children And Grief ... experience with the death of someone loved can be an opportunity to learn about life and living as well as death and dying. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Children And Grief


1
Children And Grief
2
Agenda
  • Adult vs. Child Grief
  • Tasks of a grieving child
  • Communicating with children

3
Alan Wolfelt, PhD
  • If handled with warmth and understanding, a
    childs early experience with the death of
    someone loved can be an opportunity to learn
    about life and living as well as death and
    dying.

4
Adults hesitate to talk about death with children
  • They fear saying the wrong thing and increasing
    the childs distress.
  • They want to protect the child from hurt.
  • We live in a death denying society.

5
Grief
  • is the normal and natural reaction to loss.
  • The loss can be from death, divorce, a move, a
    change in a job, and more
  • The loss can be anticipated or in the past.

6
Adult Vs. Child Grief
  • Adults have the capacity to recognize their
    grief.
  • Young children may not understand what they are
    feeling.

7
Adult Vs. Child Grief
  • Adults feel the intensity of the loss and it
    permeates them.
  • Children have shorter attention spans and will
    experience brief reactions several times a day.

8
Adult Vs. Child Grief
  • Adults will take 2 5 years to integrate their
    loss.
  • Children will re-evaluate the loss as they
    develop.

9
Adult Vs. Child Grief
  • Adults focus on processing the details and trying
    to make sense of the death.
  • Children want to know Did I cause this to
    happen? Will it happen to me? Who will take
    care of me now?

10
Three Tasks Facing Children
  • Children want to understand what has happened.
  • Children want to express how they feel.
  • Children want to continue to live fully in the
    present and open up to the future.

11
KEEP IN MIND
  • What does the child need to know?
  • What does the child want to know?
  • What can the child understand?

12
  • Not Talking With A Child Doesnt Mean We Arent
    Communicating.
  • Children are very sensitive to
  • Body language
  • Tone of voice
  • Tension in their environment

13
Principles In Communicating With Children
  • Each child has her or his own way of figuring out
    how to be okay.
  • You can help a child by giving honest
    information, acceptance and caring.
  • They may ask the same questions over and over.

14
Principles In Communicating With Children
  • Its okay to admit when you dont know the
    answer.
  • Its okay for them to feel sad, mad and scared.

15
Children mourn at a level they can understand .
  • Impacted by developmental stage and level of
    maturity
  • Maturity is not necessarily related to
    chronological age
  • Expression of grief may not be immediate
  • May need to ask same questions over and over
  • Express grief in short time bites
  • May relive the grief at each developmental stage

16
Children will show their feelings through
  • ...their behavior
  • art and play.
  • You can help by allowing the expressions of their
    feelings in a positive way.

17
Showing feelings through behavior
  • Inwardly directed
  • Withdrawal
  • Confusion
  • Listlessness
  • Crying
  • Fear of going to sleep
  • Fear of being alone
  • Difficulty separating from parents
  • You can help by offering small challenges in
    which the child can succeed.

18
Showing feelings through behavior
  • Outwardly directed
  • Combativeness
  • Hyperactivity
  • Challenging authority
  • Resistance to routine and structure
  • You can help by directing childs play toward
    safe ways to express the big energy of feelings
    (sports, hitting pillows, gross motor activity)

19
Showing feelings through behavior
  • Overachieving
  • Acting overly mature
  • Focusing on adults needs and wishes
  • Being stoic
  • Anxiety about mistakes
  • You can help by encouraging self-acceptance and
    child-like activities.

20
Showing feelings through art and play
  • Drawings tell a great deal about what the child
    is feeling ask them to explain their pictures.
  • Play is the work of a child comment on what you
    see them doing and ask them to explain.
  • Play may be the main way children express their
    feelings about what is happening.

21
Some things you can do
  • Help them name their feelings (sad, hurt, angry).
  • Encourage them to be patient with themselves.
  • Share the knowledge that it is okay to laugh, to
    play, and to have a good time. It does not mean
    that they did not love the person who died.

22
Children need adults to
  • Listen, listen, listen
  • Be open to all questions
  • Answer honestly and at the level the child
    understands
  • Share their own grief, but not to the point of
    overwhelming the child
  • Laugh and have fun

23
  • A hundred years from now, it will not matter what
    my bank account was, the sort of house I lived
    in, or the kind of car I drove.
  • But the world may be different because I was
    important in the life of a child.
  • Author unknown.
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