Tag Archive | divorce

Divorce or Death: How To Help Grieving Children

Taken from Growing Seasons: How to Help Children Heal from Divorce and Other Losses, a small group curriculum  by Jean Brunson. 

Published by Living Free Ministries. http://store.livingfree.org/Small-Group-Curriculums_c_51.html

Ages and Stages

Infants: Babies believe a person or thing only exists when it is in their field of vision. Grief for an infant is caused by breaking the bond. If bonding is broken in the first two years of life, babies need to quickly bond with someone else. This is essential if they are to establish trust in their world. Infants and toddlers also respond to the emotions of those around them.

Preschoolers: Little children still do not fully understand object permanence. They think death is reversible, like it is on cartoons. This is an age of much magical thinking. They may believe they did something to cause the the loss.

2 Kids Walking on Red Tulip Garden Under Blu Sky

Ages Six to Ten: Early elementary age children are still concrete in their thinking, so it is important not to use euphemisms in explaining death. They understand that death is final but may think of it as a ghost they can outsmart.  After a death or divorce, they feel much sadness but they think they can control it. They need to be encouraged to express it. Boys tend to be more prone to expressing their emotions of anger and acting out while girls seem to show more sorrow.

carefree, child, enjoyment

Eleven to Teenage: Preteens tend to act angry because it seems more acceptable than sadness. They may long to retreat into childhood and look for meaning in the the loss. Any adolescent rebellion that occurred before the loss can cause feelings of guilt. Children this age may have difficulty concentrating in school.

adult, beautiful, blur

Grief from a loss of any kind does impact children. I hope this blog will help some readers who are dealing with a grieving child. Please feel free to ask questions or make comments. I am here to help. However, each situation and each child is different, so any suggestions I might make are only suggestions. They are not to be considered as counseling. Please help me start the conversation.

How Magical Thinking Impacts Children

Children think differently from adults. Their stories and great imaginations keep us laughing, but their misunderstandings can cause them painful memories that haunt them for a lifetime. Professionals call it “Magical Thinking.” Children believe the world revolves around them. It seems like a good thing. When they hear and believe positive, it is. Since they believe the world revolves around them, they also believe they are responsible for bad things that happen. When there is a loss, such as divorce or the death of someone close to them or a tragic event such as abuse, they may believe it is their fault. That leads to feelings of guilt and shame. Sometimes even simple things can cause those feelings if someone gets angry or blames them.

What can we do? I would love to give you a magic bullet to destroy your child’s negative magical thinking, but no magic bullet exists. I do have an easy way to find out what your child thinks. Ask, but ask with sensitivity. Questions such as: “Who do you believe caused the divorce or death or whatever happened?” Wait for an answer. Then do your best to correct their misconceptions.

What not to say. Never blame another person, especially your child’s other parent. Your child needs the freedom to love their other parent, even if you don’t. In that case, the answer would be “divorce is a grown-up problem.” Also, don’t shame a child for a wrong answer. Just listen.

What About Adults? Adults may still hold on to magical thinking, such as, “I’m going to wash the car, then I know it will rain.” Humorous, but who hasn’t said things like that? Asa counselor, I have heard many sad stories from adults that still blame themselves for things that happened in their youth. Think back to your childhood. Do you remember an event that shaped the way you see yourself and the world? Please share it to help others.

Follow this link to find out how you or your church can minister to small groups of children who don’t live with both biological parents.  http://store.livingfree.org/Small-Group-Curriculums_c_51.htm

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How to Help Overactive Children in a Classroom

Climbing to Keep from Feeling

Climbing to Keep from Feeling

Parents and teachers of an active or inattentive child wonder if the child has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. There are several reasons a child might exhibit those behaviors, so that diagnosis must be made by a doctor. Changes in the classroom space and routine can help an active or inattentive child. In Growing Seasons divorce recovery and grief recovery groups we have found some ideas that may help you also:

1. Have stretch breaks often and provide opportunities for the children to be active.

2. If the conversation seems too intense, allow the child to leave the group for a few minutes and go to another part of the room.

3. Make the activity more interesting, unusual, and varied.

4. Add visual aids.

5. Place the child close to the facilitator, facing away from other stimuli and separated from the other active children.

6. Be more enthusiastic.

7. Give clear, concise directions using firm, polite voice. Get the children’s attention. Say what you want done, when, and how.

8. Give one direction at a time.

9. Be sure your expectations are appropriate for the child.

Please comment and let us know ideas that have helped a child you know. We would love to hear from parents and teachers, as well.

List taken from Growing Seasons: Helping Children Heal from Divorce and Other Losses.
http://store.livingfree.org/Growing-Seasons-Coordinators-Guide_p_162.html

Picture from Dreamtimefree_200973

Divorce, Kids, and My Ring Finger

074Kids and Divorce                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Does divorce hurt kids? People sometimes say, “Don’t worry. Kids are resilient.” It is true that some do seem to breeze through the break-up of a family, but others struggle for a lifetime. I recently learned a lesson from my ring finger. First, I need to tell you I have been married after 42 years. If you are divorced, I have not walked in your shoes, but I am not judging you either. I know things happen. Lots of things happen that cause a happily ever after marriage to end in divorce. The purpose of this blog is not to judge those who find themselves divorced. It is to ask you to take a close look at the thoughts and feelings of your children and teens.

For 22 years, I have counseled children and coordinated support groups for children who have experienced a divorce or the death of a parent. Some of these children are adults now and they are doing well in their lives. Others still struggle. The same is true for children from intact marriages. Yet, everything that happens in the lives of children has an impact.

Learning from Loss                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Recently something happened to me that illustrates an important point about the effects of loss on a child –  adults, too. About four years ago, I lost the diamond in my engagement ring. I think it happened at Wal-mart, but I didn’t notice it until later in the day. Finding a diamond hours later on Saturday at Wal-mart, well, let’s just say, “No way!” I grieved over the loss and what it symbolized.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. I noticed a prong on my new ring was loose, so as soon as possible, I took it to the jewelry store for repair. I felt undressed without it. Then I looked at my empty ring finger and felt shocked to see the indentation left by the ring. I looked again a few days later and it was still there, so I called the jewelry store and told them I wanted the ring resized to fit my “older” finger.      

Help Children Heal                                                                                                                                                                                                                   That reminded me about loss. Whether it is from divorce, loss, or even moving to a new place, it does leave a mark on children. The more they talk about it, the easier it will be. But they may not want to talk to you, because they don’t want to hurt your feelings. They need an outlet and they need to know that God is always there for them. Growing Seasons groups can help. If your church, school, or organization does not have a program to help grieving children, tell them about Growing Seasons: Helping Children Heal from Divorce and Other Losses. You can follow the link and read the curricula online:

http://store.livingfree.org/Growing-Seasons-Coordinators-Guide_p_162.html

If you would like more information, email GrowingSeasons@aol.com.

Helping Grieving Kids from America to Zimbabwe, Africa

Do the children in Zimbabwe have anything in common with the children in your church? The answer is “Yes.”

Children all over the world grieve and children all over the world need Jesus. Read the following letter from a woman who works in an orphanage in Africa. If Growing Seasons helps children in a Zimbabwe orphanage, don’t you think it could help those children in your congregation, too. Divorce and the death of a parent devastates children all over the world and the love of Jesus introduced to children through the Growing Seasons curriculum can help these children to heal. Read on:

Hi Jean

I hope you are well.

I wanted to give you an update on Growing Seasons in Zimbabwe. I

contacted you at the end of last year for some advice on how to begin

Growing Seasons here.

God has really blessed this ministry and we are now running the second

term with about thirty children.

It was difficult to get the Coordinator’s Guides and Parents Guides

here but we eventually had the books sent to the United Kingdom and

some people who were coming here, brought them back with them.

I was a facilitator myself in the first term and already saw a change

in some of the children by the end of the course. Growing Seasons has

really helped these children and we would like to reach many children

in Zimbabwe.

I went and did a talk for three boarding shools last week and they are

really keen to get Growing Seasons into their schools but asked if we

could possibly train some of their teachers so that they can run it. I

am now feeling led to branch out to the schools and I wanted to ask

you how I could go about this.

You said that you had Workshops there. Would you be able to provide

some material to do Workshops here. There is such a need in the

schools.

What’s a Single Parent to Do?

Here you are in one of the most, if not the most, trying times of your life. You may have to move, get a job, find reliable childcare, change churches, find out who your real friends are and more. If that were not enough, you have  children who are as devastated as you, but they don’t understand why this happened. You are exhausted:  physically, emotionally, financially, and spiritually and you can’t concentrate. On top of that, you are lonely. You love your children unconditionally, but they are also reacting to the changes in their lives. They withdraw or act out with anger. Their grades fall and their tempers rise. Yours is, too, because there isn’t much left of you to give them by the end of the day.

Your children’s pain hurts you the most. There are some little things you can do that will help a lot.The most important thing you can do for your children is listen to their feelings. Children don’t always have the words for their emotions, so they may need you to help put them into words. Even if you have tried to talk to them about their feelings and they yelled at you or retreated to their emotional safety zone, you can still help them talk about their emotions if you know how.

First, you must understand that feelings come in layers. Usually with uncomfortable emotions, anger is on top. Anger has a way of spewing all over everyone, which can lead a parent to respond the same way. Instead, stop and remember your child is grieving. Anger is an essential part of the grief process – part of breaking the bond with the one who is gone. You probably feel it, too. Have you noticed, when someone validates your anger, it seems to take the air out of it? That also works for children.

Even if you don’t agree with the things your children are saying, you can validate their beliefs it and hurts. One way to do that is to respond with, “It sounds like you feel __________. You can even add because_________. For example, “It sound like you feel angry, because Daddy didn’t pick you up at school today like he promised.” Or, “It sounds like you feel scared at Mommy’s house, because I am not there at night.” Don’t worry if you use the wrong feeling word, because then the child will have to think about it and correct you. This should disarm the child and open the door for you to go deeper. Listen again to your child’s next comment. It will probably have a strong feeling attached. Validate again, even using the same template if you wish. See if that doesn’t take your child to the next feeling level. It may take some practice, but if you love your children, and I know you do, it will be worth it. By continuing this process, you can often discover and correct the misconceptions your child is feeling after the loss, such as, “It’s my fault.” Try this today and see if it doesn’t help, but remember, your children may need you to do it a few times before they trust that you are really going to listen.

Visit again soon for more ideas on how to help children through tough times.

Churches Can Help Grieving Children

 Growing Seasons: Helping Children Heal from Divorce and Other Losses

                                                                 

When children lose a parent, due to divorce, death of a parent or other reason, they feel lonely, afraid, sad, and angry. Churches can help. Growing Seasons groups are for children ages four through twelve. They include a Bible story, fun activities, new friends, and a chance to talk about their feelings. The Parent Guide gives parents and guardians ideas on how to help their hurting children. The curriculum includes ten sessions for three ages groups. Ages four to five, grades one through three and grades four through six. Each session runs for ten weeks.

Follow this link  that will allow you to flip through the pages of the Growing Seasons Curriculum.

http://store.livingfree.org/Growing-Seasons-Coordinators-Guide_p_162.html