Children may deal with grief in different ways from adults. It is common for a child to switch from being very upset, to wanting to go out and play as if nothing has happened. This is their way of coping and does not mean that they are not affected by the death. Some changes in behaviour which you might notice are1:

  • Repetitive behaviour
  • Crying or giggling for no obvious reason
  • Acting out the loss with toys
  • Anger or aggression to friends, parents or toys
  • Tantrums
  • Copying behaviours of the dead person
  • Acting like a younger child or more like an adult
  • Running away or not wanting to go to school
  • Problems with school work
  • Irritability, restlessness and problems concentrating
  • Attention-seeking
  • Clinging, being anxious and not wanting to leave your side
  • Wetting the bed and thumb-sucking
  • Not sleeping or having bad dreams
  • Wanting to sleep with a trusted adult
  • Eating problems

1. Adapted with permission from Supporting children after suicide. Information for parents and other care givers. K. Noonan and A. Douglas (2002). Children Bereaved by Suicide Project, NSW Health Department; and Information and support pack for those bereaved by suicide or other sudden death. S.J. Clark, S.D. Hillman and Ministerial Council for Suicide Prevention (2001). Perth, Australia: Ministerial Council for Suicide Prevention. Reproduced with permission from the Commonwealth of Australia.