Supporting Children in Grief: Littles (5 to 8 years)

We hear a lot from folks about how they don’t know what to say or do for kids and teens when someone has died. Many folks are also unsure if a child is grieving “right.” Check out the tips below that can help you gain a better understanding of what grief looks like for children 5 to 8 years of age, what you can say to them to help, and how their grief looks different than an adult’s.

Common Grief Reactions

  • Young children grieve in short spurts
  • Younger children don’t always understand death is final (5-7 yrs)
  • It is ok for your child to look to your/family’s reactions to grief
  • May talk about pains in their body (more visits to the nurse), or trouble sleeping
  • May wish to stay busy and/or do things that the person who died wanted them to do in order to make them proud

Appropriate ways to speak with your child

  • Name whatever emotions they’re having without judgement
  • Behavior IS communication for you and your child
  • Use clear and simple language
  • It’s okay if you don’t always have the answer
  • HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY

Activities

  • Draw—feelings, a memory, or a wish
  • Create a memory box/book/poster
  • Read books together and answer questions
  • Celebrate your loved one by eating a food that they liked, listening to music that they enjoyed or doing an activity they liked, together

Things to Remember

  • Children’s grief is based on one’s culture, religion, and race
  • Maintain a level of curiosity with your child’s experience in grief
  • There are no set stages; grief doesn’t happen in any special order
  • Grief and grieving changes over time
  • Reach out to a professional if you or your child needs support

A Message from The Jewish Board

If you or someone you love lives in the New York metropolitan area and need help coping with grief and loss, we can help. Call us at 1.844.ONE.CALL to speak with an intake specialist. You can also contact our Loss and Bereavement Team by emailing griefsupport@jbfcs.org, calling 212.632.4692, or filling out our referral form.