Video: Helping Children Deal With Grief
COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI)- Traumatic incidents can have a permanent effect on children.
When children encounter a traumatic incident, it can be hard for them to cope and express how they feel.
“It’s heartbreaking every time a child experiences trauma,” said Melanie Benson, therapist at Meek Counseling Services.
Benson said she is seeing an increase in the number of children seeking counseling.
The therapist also said talking with children is much harder than adults, because often the kids still can’t process the tragic event.
Getting a child to open up about their traumatic experience can also be tough for children.
“You don’t just bombard them immediately with just pressing them to verbalize about their trauma,” said Benson.
Instead, Benson said reading books, drawing pictures, and playing games is a better way to help warm things up.
“With children, sometimes the way they speak is more through play or activity, or art, so that opens a window into what they’re thinking or how they perceived or saw a situation,” said Benson.
“You got to build a connection, get to know them a little bit and deal with more positive issues, over time we get into the more sensitive topics,” said psychologist Dr. Jim Lane.
Lane said showing respect to the individual and being an active listener are tactics he uses when dealing with the grieving children.
“I just try to convince the kids that I’m somebody that can help if they’re open with me, and share material with me, then I’ll try to do what I can to help them,” said Lane.
Lane said many times these traumatic incidents can have a permanent affect on children, and they desperately need someone to open up to.
“I think just teaching these kids coping skills, how they can resolve these issues, and just letting them know it’s just something you can’t erase, it’s not going to be the same, but they can learn to manage these problems better,” said Lane.
And once the children learn to manage these problems, therapists believe they should start applying those skills to their every day life.
“I think once they’ve opened up, learned how to maybe conceptualize the problem, then they need to move on and start applying coping skills, becoming engaged and getting busy rather than prolonging what’s wrong with them,” said Lane.
Lane said some children cope with their problems and move on faster than others.
He also said, bringing in the child’s parents for counseling sessions is another key factor, that way the parent can learn how to deal with the child at home.