Supporting Children in Grief: Littles

How to support children 5 to 8 years of age who are grieving.

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 judgment
  • Behavior IS communication for you and your child
  • Use clear and simple language
  • It’s okay if you don’t always have the answer


  • 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
Share Our Guide

Get the guide on understanding of what grief looks like, what you can say to a child to help, and how a child’s grief looks different than an adult’s.

Download the Guide (PDF)
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