Stages of coping

Children respond to disruptions differently from adults.Their behaviors, thoughts, and feelings are not those of "mini-adults."Young children are often unable to verbalize how they feel.

Children temporarily separated from their parents sometimes experience three stages of coping: protest, despair, and detachment.1 The following chart outlines the behaviors, thoughts, and feelings children may go through during each stage. Not all children experience each stage, nor do they necessarily experience them in the same order. Still, this can be a useful guide for understanding how children cope when someone they love is gone.

It's important to remember that you, your grandchild, and the situation are unique. For example, one child may act out when separated from their parent where another may seem relieved. Following the death of a parent, one child may withdraw from his surroundings while another may soon return to her daily activities, seemingly unaffected by the loss. Since each situation is different, it is impossible to know fully how a child will think, act, and feel.

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