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Helping Children Cope With Big Changes

By Rachel Shouse

If us adults feel overwhelmed by large changes, imagine how kids feel. Most of us likely have some sort of traumatic memory from our childhoods. You may have lost your beloved grandparents, friends, or parents; maybe you were adopted and the change was difficult on you, or you've adopted a child and had to help them through that. You can relate and empathize more than you probably know. Kids go through the stages of grief just like adults; however, they surely process it much differently. Trying to explain the stages of grief to children is hard, but it can be helpful to them knowing they're not alone. 

The Five Stages of Grief

As I mentioned before, your child is going to go through the stages of grief in their own way. Even identical twins aren't truly identical; they have their own features and personalities. It does help to know the stages so you're more able to understand what's going on with your child. Here are the five stages in the order that's most common.

Denial - This may seem self-explanatory. It kind of is, but it's hard to recognize and accept in the moment. It doesn't necessarily help your child to remind them of what happened. A hug, on the other hand, is a great idea.

Anger - Again, a much easier emotion to see in others than to see within yourself in the heat of the moment. It helps to let kids feel what they're feeling. If you're worried about poor behavior, remember that it's not what they're feeling that's the problem, but the way they express it. Focus on that for now. 

Bargaining - You know this one, "If I would've been there this wouldn't have happened." This is a very guilt-ridden stage of grief. Help your child by assuring them that no one can prevent every bad thing from happening and that this will pass eventually. Cuddles are recommended in the meantime.

Depression - This stage is, again, harder to notice. Children display depression similarly to adults, but it can also be easily mistaken as a bad day, week, or month. Kids do go through phases, even during rough times after all.

Acceptance - Don't let this word confuse you. Acceptance is not a synonym for happy. Your child may be able to smile and cry at the same time. Learning to accept something big is hard on adults, nonetheless children.

This is a lot to absorb. Remember that you are also human and need time to process big changes. You'll give your children your all, no doubt about that; however, you need to take care of yourself. You can only function as good as you set yourself up for. You've got this. One step at a time.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Valencia, Calif.

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