At any given time, half of the children in your classroom may be affected by some kind of loss.
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
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.
Common Grief Reactions in Children Sadness Anger Lowered self-esteem Guilt Fears Insecurity Denial Relief
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
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
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
Create an opportunity for students to reach out to their grieving classmate, e.g. condolence cards Brainstorm with the class acceptable statements of sympathy Provide a Supportive Environment
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.
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 Support the Grieving Child
Children may not remember what you say, but they will never forget how you make them feel.
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.
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.
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
Resources Your building crisis team can assist in the management of an acute crisis situation.
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
As a teacher you have the opportunity to touch childrens lives in a very special way. Your actions can have a life-long impact.
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.