Posted August 19, 2016
Helping Children to Grieve Loss
Hello there, parents! We know that our functioning, thinking brain has an awareness at all times that the children we are privileged to serve have suffered incredible loss before they came to us. They have lost their family, maybe several families, before joining yours. They have lost their homes, their belongings, their schools, their friendships, the sounds and smells they are accustomed to and their favorite teddy bear. We also know that we don’t always parent from our functioning, thinking brain and sometimes, sink into our feeling, reactionary brain. It’s par for the course. Here are some tools for your toolbox to use when children are grieving their losses:
Remember, it’s not about you. Really and truly, even if your child tells you that it’s about you, it’s not about you.
Be with. You will be compelled to fix your child’s grief. Stop yourself. Grief is a healthy part of the human experience, and when you add a lot of words and your own stuff into the mix, your child will struggle more. So, just be with. Sit nearby. Be present. Offer yourself as a source of stability and strength (because you are!).
When it makes sense to say something, reflect your child’s feelings back to them.
You: You miss your family
Child: I have no one left
You: You feel like you have no one left. That sounds very lonely. Is that accurate?
Child: I don’t know if I will ever see my brother again
You: It sounds like you are worried that you won’t see your brother again. Would you like to talk more about this together?
Help children identify items that support their grief process, such as photos of family members, creating a memory box, or recreating special meals.
Therapy, and not just talk therapy. Not everyone likes talking as much as we parents do. Children can often benefit more from play therapy, art therapy, music therapy, or dance therapy. Children store trauma in their little bodies, too. Keep in mind that an hour session a week is only a Band-Aid. Learn about your child through therapy and carry that knowledge and those skills into the rest of the week with you. Want to know who the best therapist in town is? You are.
Get support. Talk with your partner, your spouse, your parents, your friends, your own therapist. Join a support group of other foster and adopt parents. Find a support group. Seek out opportunities for self-care so that you can continue to be the mindful, present parent that you are.
Tune in each Friday for more Everyday TBRI®
What is TBRI®?
TBRI® is an attachment-based, trauma-informed intervention that is designed to meet the complex needs of vulnerable children. TBRI® uses Empowering Principles to address physical needs, Connecting Principles for attachment needs, and Correcting Principles to disarm fear-based behaviors. While the intervention is based on years of attachment, sensory processing, and neuroscience research, the heartbeat of TBRI® is connection.
TBRI® is designed for children from “hard places” such as abuse, neglect, and/or trauma. Because of their histories, it is often difficult for these children to trust the loving adults in their lives, which often results in perplexing behaviors. TBRI® offers practical tools for parents, caregivers, teachers, or anyone who works with children, to see the “whole child” in their care and help that child reach his highest potential.
Want to know more? Visit TCU’s Institute of Child Developmenthttp://child.tcu.edu/.