Counselling and supporting children in distress by Sonia Sharp

By Sonia Sharp

'Counselling and helping youngsters in misery' presents employees within the worrying professions with the information and figuring out they want with a view to offer potent counselling and aid for kids and younger people.

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Hayworth (1989) suggests that children are unlikely to be comforted either by adult statements Children and Grief 41 about the finality of death, vague explanations about the dead person being in heaven which are not founded in genuine belief, or by abstract statements about immortality. She recommends instead that adults give responses which take account of the poignancy of separation through death while still being honest about what they can and what they cannot accept about the idea of being reunited, on some level, with the dead person.

Charles's teacher recognized this and acknowledged Charles's strength while at the same time giving him strategies for keeping alive the memory of the dead person through such mementoes as letters, photographs and other reminders. Most importantly, he gave him time and space to talk about his dead father. Adjusting to an environment in which the dead person is missing As Charles's case indicated, the bereaved young person may feel obliged to take on new roles and develop new skills. In the process, if too much is expected at once, the young person may behave in atypical ways.

The adult needs to demonstrate care and concern through practical help, by listening, by allowing time for tears, by encouraging the child to move on when the time is right, by being tolerant and accepting when the child regresses, and, very importantly, by praising the child for strength and resilience when this emerges. Lendrum and Syme (1992) identify a whole range of ways in which adults and peers can help and support children through the grieving process. While they recognize that counselling may be necessary for some aspects of the process or in extreme cases, much of the support is best done by trusted adults and friends the child knows well and with whom he or she feels safe.

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