Although the loss of a loved one is something that we all go through at some point in our lives, grief is still a subject that most do not talk about. At school, children who are managing grief can begin to display challenging behaviors if the school environment is not supportive of this difficult time in their lives. But what is the best way to address a grieving child? One article released by NPR acknowledges the fact that although teachers are educated and working with students every day, they are not given the appropriate training on how to manage the emotional side of their students. This leaves teachers with uncertainty and could prevent them from addressing a student’s emotions and behaviors in an appropriate way, if at all.
The website https://grievingstudents.org/ is dedicated to spreading education to adults who work with youth so that they feel prepared to provide support to students who are grieving. They also provide advice to schools on how to manage a situation where a child is grieving. This is a great resource with plenty of videos and resources for those who are looking to learn about grief and how to help!
For those wondering how to have a conversation with a student about grief, here are some do’s and don’ts when talking with a grieving student:
Don’t: Say nothing at all. It can cause a student to feel alone in an already vulnerable time in their lives.
Do: Start a conversation with the student. This will open up the space for further conversation and the student will feel some comfort that someone reached out.
Don’t: Compare your grief to theirs by sharing that you had someone pass away as well. This can shift attention away from the student and onto the adult, and nobody experiences grief in the same way.
Do: Create a safe space for a student to talk about their feelings when they are having a difficult time. Let them grieve in whatever way they need to.
Don’t: Try to help students see the positive side of losing a loved one. They may not be ready to accept the loss, and they may need to feel sad for a while.
Do: Follow up to make sure that the student is getting additional support for their grief.
If you would like to read the NPR article about grief in the classroom, visit: