College of Veterinary Medicine

Pet Loss Support

Helping Children Cope with Grief

A guide for parents

  • Talk with your child; provide simple, accurate answers to questions
  • Talk with your child about your feelings
  • Listen to what your child says and how he/she says it. Does the child display fear, anxiety, or insecurity about the subject being discussed?
  • Reassure your child. For example, tell the child "We are all together in this. I care about you and will help you through this. We'll all stick together."
  • Your child may need to hear you repeat information and reassurances several times. Don't become impatient if this happens.
  Child with Pony
  • Hold your child. Provide comfort. Touching is important for everyone in a crisis.
  • Spend extra time at bedtime, talk and offer reassurance. Leave a night-light on if necessary.
  • Observe your child at play. Frequently children will act out feelings of fear, anger or grief while playing dolls, trucks, etc.
  • Provide experiences for them to relieve tension, like Play-Doh, painting, water play. If they display a need to kick or hit, provide them with a pillow or a ball and encourage safe anger
  • If your child has a meaningful object or toy, allow the child to rely on it somewhat more than usual.
  • If you are worried about your child's reaction, seek professional assistance, and do it early to maximize the benefits.

Also see Child Grief in Grief within the Family.

Contact the Pet Loss Hotline

Last Edited: Dec 31, 2008 5:09 PM   

Pet Loss Hotline, PO Box 647060, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-7060, 509-335-5704, Contact Us  Safety Links