Monthly Archives: November 2013

“What about me?”

I promise, this is my last post about grief!

When children experience grief and loss, and they do, the feelings often come under the “what about me” umbrella. These include jealousy, anger, fear, guilt, blame, loneliness, and sadness. I have some experience with loss involving children, and I have also attended some trainings around the support of children and families through their loss and grief.

Tell the truth. It’s okay to be honest with kids (they see through us anyway), and in the long run, it will support the healing process. When children are given honest information, it empowers them and makes them feel safe. If all they know was that their mom was sick and is gone now, they will think every sniffle will take them away from their family. And remember to tell the truth about your own feelings.

Memorialize. That means helping the child remember the one they’ve lost. A photo, a cherished souvenir, or even a clothing item will help the child to feel close to their loved one. This kind of thing is what adults seek when faced with loss, it only makes sense that children would too. The difference is that kids need help, they need to know that it’s ok to remember that person/pet/home and feel sad.

Routine, routine, routine. Kids need routine even on a good day. But when they feel unsafe after a loss, they need it even more. Maintaining routines after loss reminds children that there are still things they can count on. It’s ok to say, “I know things are different now, but we still go to bed at 8:00.” Just giving children that security can help them dramatically, and their routines can help us adults. We don’t always take the best care of ourselves in these situations. But if you’re making breakfast for your child, you may eat a few bites too.

Move through the grief. Emotions are fluid and always moving and changing. Let yourself move through those feelings and support children as they move through them. It’s ok to laugh at a funny story of a lost loved one. It’s also ok to be mad that they are gone. Children look to the adults in their lives for cues, and if we’re stuck, they can get stuck too.

Seek support. Whether you and your family need an actual grief counselor or grief support group, or less formal support is up to each individual. Some children look for a physical outlet for their grief. Other children turn to artwork as a form of expression. Talking to others who share feelings of loss can be the most powerful experience for kids. They discover that they are not alone, and they have an opportunity to see that it’s ok to move beyond feelings of sadness.

Bottom line: loss is hard for all of us, but children need an extra special touch. And be prepared for some amazing insights from children. After the sudden death of my husband’s sister, our son noticed a branch hitting the window of our car in traffic. This was just two days after her death, and at age 4 he says, “that must be Aunt Kate at the window saying hi .”

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Hats, Mittens, and Boots! Oh my!

It’s that time of year again, and over the past few years, I’ve learned a few things about outerwear for toddlers and young children. Living in the northeast, it’s just part of taking care of children here.

1. Label it. Kids lose things, and we all tend to purchase similar items.

2. Avoid Velcro. It’s wonderful for so many things, but not for boots and mittens. Once it gets caked with snow, you’re done, the boots won’t close and neither will the mittens.

3. Boots with liners are helpful. Boots will get wet, filled with snow, and just plain stinky. Having removable liners will make it so much easier to dry out the boots and make them last longer. Just in case it’s too late, stuff newspaper into the wet boots and change it often. It works!

4. Look for more flexible mittens, and mittens with an elastic cuff. If a mitten is too thick or stiff, the kids will take it off more quickly. Kids want to stay warm, but they also want to pick things up and use their hands. They will choose to be cold.

5. Hats are just super fun! Get your kids wearing their hats in October and thru April so when it’s really cold, they’ll be ready.

I hope these hints are helpful! Let me know if you have any thoughts on outerwear for kids!

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Fake it!

So I’ve decided that a great way to beat the blues when you are with young children is to just fake it till you make it.

Before I figured this out, I did a couple of things: owned those feelings, shared those feelings, and took some deep breaths. You see, I was given sad news just before my work day started. I had to continue with my day, and luckily, we were able to splash in some mud puddles. The kids noticed that I was sad, and so I just said, “yes I feel sad” and guess what? They gave me hugs. After that, they went back to their mud puddle. Deep breathing and watching the splashes were just what I needed to clear my head.

The rest of the day, I tried to just be in the moment and enjoy. At times that it was more difficult, I chose to fake it. It worked, I faked being myself until I just felt like myself.

But seriously, mud puddles are like magic!

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How do I do this?

My dear friend is dying, and I care for a family member of hers. How do I smile and be a consistent presence for this child when all I want to do is cry ? In my head I know that the best thing I can do for my friend is support her family, both as a friend and teacher. But all I want to do is drop everything and go see her. I won’t, but how do I keep the tears at bay?

I don’t have an answer for this one…any of you?

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The Day After Halloween…

The day after Halloween brings many teachers and childcare providers to tears.  The kids are cranky, tired, sugared, and overstimulated.  I couldn’t help but notice that the schools in our county are closed on November 1st this year.  Coincidence?  I think not, however I am open for business.  I expect the children to be cranky, tired, sugared and overstimulated.  I also expect that they need the comfort of a predicable routine and a calm atmosphere.  I intend to meet the needs of the children whether that includes lots of movement or an early nap.  Maybe the children need to pound on some clay or splash in some water.  I’ll find out tomorrow, but one thing is for sure, it will be a nice, regular, routine, and consistent day.  The children need it after all the excitement of the holiday.

Let me know how you handle the day after Halloween…do you hide?  eat lots of candy?  or if you’re a teacher, do you take a sick day?

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And this is my adorable but cranky, tired, sugared and overstimulated child… Can anyone tell me what he was for Halloween?

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