Helping Children Cope with Grief Around the Holidays

Are you dealing with a death in the family member and not sure how to help your child grieve through the holidays? Emotions and memories can be strong during the holidays for adults and kids alike. It’s a time where the loss of a loved one can truly hurt the most. Luckily, there are some ways parents can help children express their grief and remember their loved ones in a healthy way. Here’s a brief guide to how parents can provide grief support for children during the holidays.

Start conversations and share memories

Open communication is essential in helping kids deal with loss. Spend as much one-on-one time as possible with the child during their time of grief. Share specific, positive memories of their loved one with them, and give them space to share their own stories and memories. Try to highlight a favorite holiday memory, maybe one that involves your loved one’s favorite holiday-time activities.

Be clear about your loved one’s passing

Many adults mistakenly think that framing death in more pleasant terms is beneficial for children. This typically isn’t the case. Instead of using phrases like “went to sleep” or “gone for now,” use the words “death” and “died” with children.

Give them hope

The holidays are a time of hope. If you follow a specific religion, take part in holiday activities that can provide little ones with a sense of hope. Not only does this help de-stress kids and help them focus on happier things, it also gives them a more positive outlook for their own future.

Give back

Giving back to your community, especially during the holiday season, is a great way to give kids a new perspective on their own life. Provide opportunities for your child to help those who are less fortunate. There are countless ways to do this throughout the holidays. Whether you deliver meals to less fortunate families or the elderly, make cookies for neighbors or assist at a local homeless shelter, you could start a new holiday tradition in honor of your loved one.

Give them breaks

Grief support for children shouldn’t be a full-time task—children need a break. Children can’t grieve all day every day. Give kids an opportunity to laugh and be themselves. Laugh along with them and give them activities to keep their minds and hands busy. Let them draw, color, play with clay or take part in creative play to take a break from the tough times.

Provide a memento

A photo or small memento from your loved one can help your child feel close to them. Let the children keep photos of their loved one from past holidays, and explain that while this holiday will seem different, many of the traditions will still remain.

Helping kids deal with loss is especially important during the holidays. It’s often the toughest time of year to be missing a loved one, regardless of your age. Reach out to My Second Home Early Learning Center today to learn more about caring for children throughout the highs and lows of life.