Chapter 4: Preschool children’s grief
Supporting young children in their grief
“I had such a hard time with Fatima – after her dad died, she was good all day at school yet constantly acting out at home. Her teacher helped me find ways to help her express her feelings and eventually she started to calm down”. - Parent
Below are several ways you can help support young children in their grief.
Click on each box for more information about each one.
Young children will need your help to learn the difference between their feelings and their behaviours. Let them know that all of their feelings are natural and healthy, even the really big ones, but that some behaviours aren’t appropriate.
Teach the difference between feelings and behaviours.
“It’s okay to feel really angry right now. It’s not okay to hit people though. Let’s think of some other ways to get these angry feeling out so that no one gets hurt.”
Suggestions for the family in supporting their child
Below are some tips to work with the child’s family to help them take an open and honest approach with their young child.
- Encourage the family to share short, honest statements about what happened. “Your dad died in a car accident.”
- Choose your words carefully.
- Share appropriate resources with them.
See also:The Dougy Centre Tip Sheet on Supporting Grieving Preschoolers
Books for Children
Supporting a grieving child