Let kids know you’re truly listening. When a child is ready to talk, stop what you’re doing, sit down, and look at them. Listen to their words, and try to sense the feelings behind the words, too.
Have children trace around one hand. Within the outline of each finger, they can write about or draw something they are looking forward to (or you can write it for them). Start small: hearing the first “ribbit” of frogs in the spring, starting a new grade, learning to ride a bike.
Start a laugh-a-day club. Let one child be responsible each day for telling a silly story, sharing a joke, or just making a funny face that everyone else can copy.
If children need help talking about feelings, use markers and paper plates to make some “feeling faces”: sad, mad, worried, happy. The faces can be good conversation starters (“When do you feel this way?”).
Help kids connect to the loved one they have lost. Encourage them to think of qualities they share with their deceased parent (“I have Dad’s smile,” “Mom was a great singer, like me”).
Let kids know it’s okay to cry and that grown-ups do, too (you might say something like “I’m thinking of Dad, and missing him makes me cry. But I’m still here for you.”).