The Affect Of Developmental Factors On How A Five Year Old Child Copes With Loss

1352 words - 6 pages

The Affect of Developmental Factors on how a Five-Year-Old Child Copes with Loss
Loss is an unavoidable experience for all children through the different developmental stages of life. These loses may be seen through a child losing or breaking a favourite toy, or through parents being divorced, moving houses, the loss of familiar routines, schools, or friends, and also through the death of someone close to them (Corr, Charles; Balk, David. 2010). Regardless of the type of loss experienced, it will bring sadness and grief upon the child, and the way a child deals with the loss is dependant on their cognitive and psychosocial development.
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This is due to adults having more life experiences, having previous experiences with grief and already developing ways to deal with their emotions (Corr, Charles; Balk, David, 2010). Children lack the coping resources that adults have developed, and are therefore vulnerable to the long-term negative effects loss can have (Gill, A., 2012). Adults have developed ways to deal and control these feelings attached to objects and when loss occurs, whereas children make a special bonds to these objects. When this bond is broken or threatened acute anxiety can occur (Wright, B. 1992). This is due to children not having the capacity to separate, classify or organise their losses and thoughts into the larger world or to fully understand the way adults do (Di Ciacco, Janis A. 2008).
In comparison to adults, a child’s understanding of the living and the dead differ primarily due to the cognitive development that differs from children to adults. The concept of someone or something being dead requires abstract thinking, something that children have not yet established (Michelle, 2007). Children often view death as reversible: that the person is just asleep and will wake up, or they have just gone away for a while and will come back soon. A five-year-old child does not have the cognitive ability to make the leap of understanding and therefore sometimes they don’t understand the permanence and irreversibility of death or some forms of losses. Even if the child uses the right words, it does not mean that the child completely understands the situation (Di Ciacco, Janis A, 2008). Piaget’s theory proves that children do not have a good understanding of death and life until around the age of ten-years-old. This suggests that a five-year-olds understanding of death is further developed after the transition from the preoperational stage to the concrete operational and then further when they go into the formal operational stages of cognitive development (Michelle, 2007).
The way a child response to loss also depends on the stage of development they are in and the type of loss experienced. As a five-year-old child can’t fully separate death from life, their understanding of loss may involve some sort of ‘magical thinking’ (National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes Health, 2011). The way most children respond to loss is by first encountering shock, which may be associated with numbness and denial. Secondly, they will experience a sense of yearning or protest for the object lost or the deceased. The next stages of child grief is then despair, followed by recovery where they will have an increase in their well-being, acceptance and adaptation to the loss. Yet, research suggests that if these steps of grief are not successfully completed, the child will suffer complicated grief and may regress to previous stages of development (A Developmental Psychopathology Framework of the Psychosocial Needs of Children Orphaned by HIV, 2009). During the stages of grief, a...

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