Looking for ways to help your grieving children? From talking to drawing, read on for 4 grief activities for kids.
We all want to protect our children from the pain of a loved one’s passing. At the same time, death is a natural part of life that we all face and process. As caregivers, we can make learning about death a little easier by showing our kids consistent love and support, modeling how to express emotions through positive language and play, and giving them activities as a resource to help them process their grief journey.
In this guide, we’ll offer a few effective grief activities for kids that can help them develop emotional awareness as they work through their loss. These simple, hands-on, creative activities can benefit the whole family, but they can also provide your grieving child with coping strategies they can come back to throughout their lives. We hope you find comfort and support in these grief and loss activities for kids.
#1 Build a Noise Box
We can all understand the need to vocalize our emotions, right? Fun to assemble and handy in moments of anxiety, this DIY box can help provide your kids with a safe space to express their feelings. This allows them to feel more comfortable with any type of emotional release and understand that it’s okay to express their emotions.
To assemble, follow these instructions:
- Fill a cardboard box (like a shoebox or cereal box) with crumpled newspaper.
- Tape any openings or loose flaps shut.
- Cut an inch-size hole in the top of the box and glue or tape a paper towel roll into it.
- Decorate with stickers, song lyrics, drawings, or images from magazines and newspapers.
Now your child is ready to let out whatever they’re feeling!
#2 String Memories Together
At a craft shop or art supply store (if you have access to one), grab a starter box of beading supplies. Despite only costing a few dollars total, the jewelry you and your child can make together in this activity is invaluable and the memories will last a lifetime.
- Have your child pick out different colored beads that relate to the loved one who has died. They might choose the color of their loved one’s favorite sports team or their favorite activities. For example, green beads can represent a gardening hobby.
- Ask your child about the colors as a way to discuss favorite memories of that loved one. Try open-ended questions to spark more in-depth conversations.
- Help your child finish their necklace or bracelet by assisting with any clasps or fasteners that need to be added. Then help them put it on or store it in a safe place.
Not only is this an engaging and crafty activity for your kids to try, but it also provides them the emotional benefit of connecting with who they’ve lost in a digestible way. As children grow, they develop concrete thoughts and ideas. Therefore, making a memory box or book can help them connect with the person who has passed in a more concrete way.
#3 Throw a Dance Party
Movement and music can provide powerful therapeutic benefits for children. A recent study found that both drama and music therapy can reduce feelings of loneliness and anxiety in grieving children.1 Harness the power of both by creating a playlist with your child and holding an all-family dance party.
Some ideas for selecting songs include:
- Songs that evoke different moods in your child, such as joy, calm, or nostalgia
- Songs that were enjoyed or cherished by your child’s loved one who has passed
- High-energy songs to encourage working out some wiggles or anxiousness
If the family is up for it, try enhancing this activity with stuffed animals, magic wands, or musical instruments.
#4 Write A Loved-One Poem
A staple activity of the Slumberkins Sprite curriculum, poetry can help children find their voice and express their feelings in words. One recent study found that poetry interventions reduced feelings of fear, sadness, and anger in hospitalized children.2
Start with a simple poem by writing the name of the person whom your young child lost in capital letters in a vertical arrangement. Have your child use those letters to start adjectives that they feel describe that person or their feelings for that person. Older children can use letters to generate longer sentences or even paragraphs.
Don’t Forget to Acknowledge Your Own Grief
As adults, we all have our unique ways of processing grief. For some of us, this can mean trying to keep our chins up and mask or minimize our emotions, especially when we have a bereaved child at home.
But compartmentalizing difficult feelings can be draining, especially if you’re trying to support your child through their sadness or anxiety. Always remember that if you are grieving along with your child, it can be helpful for them to see you processing your emotions, too.
This will also allow you to engage in important social-emotional skills with your child like:
- Active listening
- Communicating feelings through words
There’s no correct way to grieve. Leading this notion by example and teaching emotions is one of the most important ways we can support them during their grieving process.
Help Your Child Process Their Grief With Slumberkins
Learning how to talk to kids about death and cope with loss can be hard to navigate. Tapping into your child’s love of activity can help them with their grief process and make death feel less scary. Activities like the ones above can end up feeling cathartic not just for your young children, but the rest of your family members, too.
The ability to share emotions will be one of the most important emotional strengths of a child as they grow. At Slumberkins, we’re here for you and your child. Our “connect-to-grow” approach utilizes books, activities, lovable creatures, and other resources to help facilitate moments of connection that can help children feel seen, valued, and loved.
When faced with the loss of loved ones, take comfort in Sprite Kin as grief support to help your child cope and share their feelings.
- Boron, Leila et al. "Comparison of the Effectiveness of Drama Therapy and Music Therapy on Loneliness, Anxiety, and Children with Grief Referred to Ahwaz Clinics." Journal of Health Promotion Management. 11 october, 2020. http://mail.jhpm.ir/article-1-1242-en.pdf
- Delamerced, Anna et al. “Effects of a Poetry Intervention on Emotional Wellbeing in Hospitalized Pediatric Patients.” Hospital pediatrics vol. 11,3 (2021): 263-269. doi:10.1542/hpeds.2020-002535
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