Ask the child or young person how they would like to be supported.Identify friends and teachers that they would like to receive support from. If the pupil has a named member of staff they need to know when they are available to talk to and how to get hold of them.
Agree a place for the child or young person to go for some time out, a place to sit quietly and compose themselves if they are feeling upset or angry. Some adolescents that we have met have used ‘the red card system’ in school where they have a card that is recognised by all teachers, it represents the young person's need for some time out without the pupil having to explain in front of the class and to each teacher why. For younger children you can use a stone with one side painted a happy colour and one side a sad colour. The pupil can then put it on their desk so the teacher can see clearly how they are feeling. At home children can make signs to go on their bedroom door so other members of the family know when it is ok to talk.
Be open and honest with the child or young person which includes using clear language. It is ok to ask questions or even say how are things today? If you are asked a question that you are unsure about it is ok to say that you don’t know the answer. It may be something you can help find the answer to.
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Children we help
Beth aged 14 years came to a group programme after her dad had died suddenly and unexpectedly. She was having difficulty concentrating at school and felt that it was hard for others to understand how she was feeling. Her relationship with her dad hadn't always been easy and she was struggling with her guilt. At the group she met other young people who had experienced the death of someone significant to them. They shared their coping strategies with Beth. She began to realise that others had a similar mix of feelings as well as good and not so good memories. She felt less alone in her grief and found a new supportive network of friends.