Practical ways to support your child’s return to school when they are bereaved or facing the death of a loved one.
A time of transition can be hard for any child but the thought of returning to school, a new class or teacher or even a new school entirely can feel like a mountain to climb for a child or young person who is facing the death of a loved one or has been bereaved. It may well feel like another change and potentially another thing to grieve.
Transition may bring around stress which could increase the level of the hormone cortisol. Be aware that stress can present in physical ways such a stomach ache, headache or tiredness as well as emotional ways. It can be difficult to identify the reasons behind some changes in behaviour too, they may be small, subtle, or seemingly unrelated.
It is important during this time of transition to give your child time to adjust and be patient with the challenging or withdrawn behaviour they may exhibit.
Practical ways you can support your child through the transition:
- Preparation is key, talk to your child openly and honestly about the transition. Ask them if they have any ideas of things that could be put in place to help them.
- Arrange a meeting with their new teacher and acknowledge that they are bereaved or facing the death of a loved one.
- Create a visual representation of the child’s support network including their Family, Friends, Teacher, TA, ELSA or SENCO.
- Provide a transitional object they could take with them to school, eg a button sewn into their pocket, a handkerchief with a familiar smell.
- Try to keep as much as you can the same, morning and bedtime routine, after school clubs/childcare.
- Change may cause your child to regress in behaviour eg bed wetting, wanting to be dressed or fed. Talk to the child about the changes you have noticed and reassure them.
- Help your child to acknowledge their emotions, for example how does this make you feel, when you hide I am wondering if you feel scared? Remind your child they are safe and loved.
- Take time to reflect on all the positive qualities your child has, perhaps you could create a jar of strengths. Fill a small jar with positive statements about your child.
- Remind your child that this time of transition will pass, and things will settle.
We are here for you. For anyone struggling to cope, our helpline is open Monday – Friday, 9.30am – 12.30pm. Call 01342 313895 if you need support or advice. We help bereaved children and young people and those facing the death of a loved one in Surrey, Crawley, Mid Sussex and West Kent.