Let Bitter Be Sweet

Tips on Breaking Difficult News to Your Child
One of the problems that parents face is explaining the bitter news to their children. For many of us, this is a daunting task. Whether it is the death of our pet cat or the death of a family member, young children need our help to deal with these events. Another challenge is that parents may experience harm and pain while talking to their children.
We all want to take care of our children. We tend to maintain happy moments in life, and it is really hard for us to see our children in distress. Life is not entirely sweet and miserable, we can do more to help our children during such events by providing emotional support to them.

When we share sad news with our children, expressing grief can be a good place to start.
Children need to know that there is nothing wrong with being upset and crying. This can be helpful for them to have a better understanding of what is going on around them. It is important to be honest and use the right language so that we don’t cause unnecessary worries to them. In most cases, when a loved one dies, using the terms “dead” – instead of “asleep” or “gone somewhere for a long vacation” – is more helpful for the child. Using phrases like ‘the one we lost is happy in the heaven ‘ creates a paradox for the child why everyone is sad if the person who died is happy.

Also saying ‘he is with God’ or ‘someone was so good that God took him/Her to himself’ creates hatred and fear for the child. It upsets him from God and creates the fear so that he does not lose the rest of his loved ones who are good people. So when we use substitute words for death, it creates more uncertainty and confusion for children. So talking and interacting emotionally with the child about what happened can be an opportunity for them to analyze what they are experiencing.
Parents can assume that children are asking questions anyway, but sometimes the child does not have the confidence and ability to express their feelings. He/she needs an invitation to talk about bitterness with his/her parents or any other loved one. Notably, he/she should know that feelings of sadness, anger, or loneliness are normal feelings. What is really useful is that someone in this situation, whenever necessary, should answer his/her questions and talk to him/her.Do not underestimate the impact that bad news can have on children. Children grieve differently than adults.Children may not be able to express their feelings and it is often evident from their behavior.
Some families may notice increased awakening, constant nightmares, hatred and aggression of their children.

How do we share the inevitable bitter news with our child?
As parents, we’re sometimes forced to be the bearer of bad news to our children. Here are some tips to help your child cope with unsettling news:

  1. .Never hide bad news from your child for a long time until he/she finally hears it from someone else first. Anticipate that there may be unpleasant questions and be prepared to answer them as much as possible.
  2. Choose a quiet place to talk where the child feels safe and does not interrupt. Have his/her favorite items near him/her, such as him/her favorite toys, especially for younger children.
  3. Be honest with them. Share with your children the beliefs and affirmations you believe in.
  4. Keep the description simple. If you do not know something or can not explain it, admit that you do not know.
  5. Do not talk too long and one-sided and do not tell children how they should think, give them a chance to ask a few questions and create an interactive atmosphere. If you see your child withdrawing as a result of hearing unsettling news, it can be helpful to give them a way to release emotions. Providing them with art supplies or a journal to write down feelings that are hard to communicate in person may help. Never hesitate to reach out to counselors that are equipped to talk with your child if you feel they need more support.

Translator:Salma Syeda

Keywords: children ,Parents ,Death ,Bad News ,Breaking bad news, Courage ,Listening ,Emotional Support, Maturity ,Understanding ,