support groups for children...
children ages 6 - 11, who have experienced loss through death or divorce
Children are deeply affected by bereavement and even those who have adjusted are often struggling with churned up emotions. Innocently perceptive and keenly aware of tension, sadness or anger in the home, children attempt to make sense out of what is happening by filling in the gaps with their own imagined explanations. Unfortunately, because cognitive reasoning skills in young children are underdeveloped, they come up with fantasies about the situations which are often more frightening than the truth.
Our programme is one of prevention and intervention in the lives of these children. Led by adult facilitators trained by Growing Through, support groups provide a safe setting in which children can talk through their feelings with peers who are experiencing similar situations. Learning is accomplished through a variety of teaching methods including crafts, games, storytelling, puppetry, songs, and journal work.
what children learn
- families change, but regardless of who they live with, they are still part of a family
- it is possible to still love both parents, even though they don't live together
- they did not cause the divorce or death and they could not have prevented it
- they do not need to feel guilty
- it is normal to have angry and sad feelings
- some things cannot change so adjustments must be made
- there is a God whose love never changes and He is always there for them
what children say
I liked being in my age group and being listened to.(age 7)
I learned how to handle my feelings.(age 8)
I learned how to feel calm(age 9)
I learned to control anger and problems in my life. It has helped me learn how to talk to God and realise that I can talk to someone who will really understand me.(age 10)
what parents say
After initial doubts whether this course would do more harm than good, I am left in no doubt that it has benefited my child in many ways.
The programme transformed our lives at home. I feel my son has learned more positive ways of dealing with anger and is more able to talk openly about his feelings with me. At his request, he has started to have contact with his dad, whom he didn't see for three years. He is now able to speak up for himself so this marks an increase in confidence and self-esteem.
Children need to feel that their opinion matters and they can discuss how they feel with other children. My daughter made new friends who understand her and how she feels.
The children unite in the fact they share a common feeling of loss or change. They realise we can't go back, and work at how best to change their future. It's so important that children address all feelings before they grow up. The more they suppress how they feel, the more self-destructive they become.