How to Help Your Toddler Cope with Grief

How to Help Your Toddler Cope with Grief

When you become a parent, the last thing you want to think about is your child experiencing even a moment of pain and sadness. You want to keep your child in a bubble, away from harm and heartbreak.

Quickly we realize, as parents, that our kids will fall down and get bumps and scrapes, and that it is okay. We kiss their booboos and they get right back up again, running head first towards their next challenge without a moment’s hesitation.

A scraped knee after tumbling down the slide at the playground is something we parents know how to handle. We are ready with our open arms, antibacterial wipes, and multi-colored Band-Aids before the fall even happens.

It is much more difficult, however, to mend your child’s broken heart when tragedy occurs and you lose a loved one. You cannot put a Band-Aid on the flood of emotions you and your child may experience, but there are some things you can do to help your toddler cope with grief and loss.

How to Help Your Toddler Cope with Grief

1. Ride the Wave

First and foremost, do not try to dam the flood of emotions. Instead, ride the wave. I recently lost a beloved family member and when I received the news, I burst into tears. My daughter, as always, was sitting upon my lap when I received the phone call.

As I began to cry, her own face crumbled, mirroring my despair. At first, I began to tell her that everything was okay, but then I realized that it would be a lie. Instead I explained that I was very sad and when I get sad, I cry. I explained that sometimes hurts can be on the inside, just like a booboo on the knee, only these are heart hurts.

As I grieved the loss of my loved one, I cried many, many times. I let my daughter see my emotions, thus helping her learn that it is okay to be sad and show sadness, as it is unfortunately a part of life, However, I also showed her that hugs and kisses, coupled with talking about your feelings, go a long ways towards healing.

As my daughter grows and matures, I want her to be able to come to me and talk about all of her feelings, good and bad. The best way to teach her the importance of open communication is to model it myself.

For great books to read with your toddler and additional helpful strategies, please scroll down and click the next page.

6 thoughts on “How to Help Your Toddler Cope with Grief

  1. Aww, I’m so sorry for your loss. Not too long ago, we lost my father in law and my brother in a matter of 6 months. To say that was a hard year would be an understatement. I tried my best to be open with my children, as their age allowed. We had some great books that helped the younger ones. A lot of prayer and a lot of tears through hugs,
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    1. Thank you so much for sharing. It is so hard for us as adults, but it is especially hard for the little ones to understand. I agree that prayer and hugs can go a long way towards healing. I am so sorry for your loss.

    1. Thank you so much. I love the way you put that, “allowing grief to happen in it’s own way.” I think that is exactly what you have to do. Everyone processes loss in their own way, even adults, so being open to your kids and their process is great advice.

  2. We haven’t really had to deal with this yet. We lost my grandpa last year, but I don’t think my boys really knew what was going on. They knew he was sick and in the hospital, and then we had the funeral. We did a lot of talking as they brought up questions but that was really it.

    1. They probably did not know and that is probably better, but it is so good that you still talked about it and allowed them to ask questions. I am sure that helped a lot.

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