Helping Your Child Grieve

LOVE, SUPPORT AND HONESTY MEAN EVERYTHING TO A GRIEVING CHILD

One of the most difficult emotional strains on anybody is the death of a friend or loved one.
As a mature adult you’ve learnt to deal with the different stages of grief and how to express these both emotionally and socially. For a child, emotional maturity has not been reached, so the ways a child deals with death and the ways they express their emotions vary tremendously.

What causes bedwetting?

If your child is going through a bedwetting phase, you’re probably wondering what’s causing it. The short answer is that it’s usually down to a minor developmental delay, which will straighten itself out over time. It’s quite rare for bedwetting to be caused by an underlying medical condition. The most common form of bedwetting is called primary nocturnal enuresis. This refers to when a child has never been dry at night. Common causes are things like genetics, a neurological development delay between the bladder and brain, or the underproduction of the antidiuretic hormone ADH that signals to the kidneys to produce less urine at night. The other type of bedwetting is secondary nocturnal enuresis. This refers to a child who has been dry for six months or more, and then starts to wet the bed. This is typical the result of underlying medical issues or by emotional factors. For children with primary nocturnal enuresis, it means your child’s bladder capacity has not developed to the point of being able to hold urine overnight. Children who wet the bed at night may have a nervous system that is slow to process the feeling of a full bladder. So your child does not wake up or respond to the messages sent from their bladder to their brain saying its full and needs emptying. As their body matures the messages sent from the bladder start to get through and your child learns to wake and go to the toilet. Most children who experience bedwetting haven’t reached this developmental stage yet. But don’t worry, they’ll get there soon. While deep sleeping certainly plays a role in bedwetting it is not the primary cause of why it happens in the first place. Deep sleeping just makes it even harder for children to response to the signal sent from their bladder telling them to ‘wake-up’. Secondary nocturnal enuresis is a little more complex. If your child has been dry at night for six months and they relapse back to bedwetting, it’s often a sign of emotional problems or stress. Common catalysts include big events, such as moving house, a new sibling, or starting school. Stressful situations, including tension in the home, death of a family member or pet, or being bullied at school can also cause your child to start wetting the bed again. Other causes of secondary bedwetting include minor medical conditions, such as constipation or a urinary tract infection. In very rare cases, bedwetting can be caused by diabetes. One thing to remember through all of this is that the cause is never laziness. It’s important to remain calm and not to take out any frustration on your child, even though it can be a real pain to change sheets every night. Provide some extra support to your child by using DryNites® Night Time Pants or BedMats. It gives them a little more independence and they’re an effective safety net at night.

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EXPLAINING DEATH TO A CHILD

Factors such as age and their stage of development play a large role; however a child’s perception of death is shaped in most part by your reactions and responses.
Talking to children about death does not have to wait until an emotionally charged event like the loss of a loved one. Parents can use day-to-day experiences such as finding a dead bug or animal to explore children’s understandings and engage in discussions about death.

HOW TO HELP GRIEVING CHILDREN

Social support for children is crucial following the death of a loved one. Allowing your child to see your own pain reinforces to them that it is okay to be sad, while at the same time letting them know that you are there for them too. With support, your child can make good adjustments and manage grief in their lives.
Helping your child to grieve:

  • Ensure consistent routines and a sense of stability
  • Handle changes in behaviour with understanding
  • Prepare for a surge of separation anxiety or increased clinging behaviour
  • Prepare for sleeping problems, as well as the desire to sleep with parents or siblings
  • Use concrete details to describe death and answer questions honestly
  • Talk and listen to children – what are their fears or concerns?
  • Use play, drawing, writing and other expressive activities to enhance understanding and work through feelings
  • Introduce age-appropriate books on death and dying
  • Avoid treating death as a taboo subject

HELPING OTHERS

Before a funeral, describe what to expect, what role the child can play, roles other people will play, how others will feel and behave, and how the child may feel throughout the day.
While grief is normal, persisting grief reactions are not. If symptoms interfere with any aspect of normal functioning they need to be addressed. If you have any particular questions, please ask Dr Catherine and she will personally answer any concerns you have.

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