Loss and grief in young children

From: Young Exceptional Children

Most of us faced with a grieving child are likely to feel quite helpless. At such a difficult time, there is limited research into how best to inform teachers and parents to support a child dealing with loss and grief in sensitive and healthy ways. The response of teachers and parents is important for the child’s positive emotional development and to shape reactions to future loss. This article explores the issue of loss to provide a framework to address the topic.

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Although young children experience many losses throughout childhood (McGlauflin, 1998), there is limited research in this area that informs teachers and parents as to how best to respond to loss events for and with children. The purpose of this article is to discuss loss from a broad theoretical perspective to illustrate the many ways in which young children experience loss and to provide a framework for teachers and parents to address this topic in sensitive and healthy ways. First, we present theory on and research about loss and grief so that parents and teachers can have a common understanding of children’s experience of loss (associated with death and other loss experiences). Second, we explore perspectives regarding loss and grief, including the responses of children at various developmental stages and family and cultural influences. Third, we examine how significant transition events and nonevents (when expected events do not occur) might have a loss component. Finally, we share ideas, resources, and strategies for supporting children who experience loss and grief.

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Article details:

Title: Loss and grief in young children

Authors: Paddy Cronin Favazza and Leslie J. Munson

From: Young Exceptional Children 2010; 13; 86

DOI: 10.1177/1096250609356883

First published:  January 2010

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