When young children go through a sad time, identifying their social supports can help them feel secure.
Here my young student identifies her family as her ‘go to’ people. These are the people she can rely on and who can help her through her sad times.
My young student has a special relationship with her cousins, who make her feel happy when she is sad.
You will need:
Pencils and textas
Using magazine pictures or other items can make a collage. Be mindful this may detract from your central aim of helping the child to understand who is in their inner support circle. Sometimes less is best. It all depends on the child.
You could incorporate this into a child safety message and stranger danger education.
This support circle could be expanded to incorporate community supports such as emergency services, police, the church and other organisations.
For grief and loss:
After identifying the changes that happened in my young client’s family (her parents separating) we talked about her feelings. This is an opportunity to help the child identify different emotions and expand their vocabulary and emotional intelligence.
This is a good time to talk about feelings around a variety of changes – how the family has changed, possibly the child has moved to a new house and school, maybe they are now living in two homes week about as they spend time with each parent in different homes.
Helping the child to express their thoughts around these changes can help ascertain whether there is any incorrect thinking – like the child feels the family breakdown was their fault.
It is important to validate the child’s feelings and being careful not to downplay these feelings or to say glib cliques, to normalise these feelings. Knowing that others going through big changes feel the same way can be reassuring to them.
Talking about these big feelings may invoke shame. It is important to reassure children that they are not responsible for the action of adults, and that they are loved but sometime adults forget how to be friends. This could be extended to include their being an important part of the community.
I always encourage children to ask questions of their parents to clarify what happened in their family and why the changes occurred. Parents can then respond with appropriate amounts of information. Sometimes the child is just after some reassurance that they are safe and their needs will be met. A small amount information can put their minds at ease. If they need more information, they will keep asking.
I have seen parents reassure their children with information, however I have seen parents use this as an opportunity for payback to their partner for their past deeds. They have overloaded the child with “too much information” which has left the child angry and confused.
Children are not able to process the complexities of adult relationships. A five year old cannot understand infidelity.
Children need reassurance and to see those closest to them as their safe people.
Links to the Australian Curriculum:
ACPPS020/ Health and Physical Education / Years 1 and 2
Identify and practice emotional responses that account for own and others’ feelings, recognising own emotions and demonstrating positive ways to react in different situations, understanding how a person’s reaction to a situation can affect others’ feelings
Blue Skies Craft – Using art and craft to restore
Blue Skies Tomorrow – There is always hope.