Extreme grief can be experienced when you lose a loved one or something important, and can be experienced at any age. For the most part, adults are able to deal with grief, while children are usually unable to express themselves. This is why it is important for teachers and parents to keep on the lookout for changes in their behavior.
A bereaved child may display regressive behavior such as absent-mindedness, baby talk and bedwetting; these symptoms are especially common among children aged between three and six years. On the other hand, some children may be visibly anxious and resort to aggressive behavior. That is why it is extremely important to communicate with children after they have experienced a tragedy and show them that they are loved.
Art therapy or story telling sessions are tools that counsellors continue to employ in order to gain insight into a child’s mind. I once treated a depressed five-year-old with similar techniques; she was extremely sad and confused following the death of her father. Her mother had not told her that he had passed away and that he would never come back. The child could sense something was terribly wrong and that no one was telling her the truth.
That is why having frank conversation with children is essential, especially if they are more than seven years old, as they understand finality and need closure. Their sadness or fear manifests through ailments like stomachaches. One way that you can help them cope with stress is engage them in recreational activities, in addition to play and art therapy.
Teenagers are more difficult to treat; they are usually afraid of displaying their feelings, or apperaring weak and vulnerable. Therefore, they have to be encouraged to talk about their feelings, and told that the emotional turbulence they experience is normal. Effective tec hniques that can be employed include relaxing exercises such as yoga, as well as art and narrative therapy.
By Sabin jawed. The writer is a psychologist.