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Raising Mentally Healthy Kids with Michelle Nietert

Sep 28, 2021

Often our children’s first experience with death is the loss of a pet. In the second half of my interview with Director of Child and Adolescent Counseling Sissy Goff, M. Ed., LPC-MHSP, we’re talking about how we can help our kids process loss and teach them about grief. We’re also offering some helpful tips on how to gauge how well your child is moving through the grieving process and when it’s time to seek professional help.

Key points from our conversation:

🐶 It’s important to honor the loss with kids and give them the time and space to grieve. Sometimes we don’t want to see our kids hurting so we circumvent the process.

💔 Sometimes acknowledging your child’s pain is enough. All kids experience grief differently and will need to honor their pets in different ways.

🤐 Sometimes because we’re also grieving children won’t express their emotions because they don’t want to make us sadder. Their grief may be more significant than we know.

🧠 Normalize mental health checkups. It gives your child a safe place so if something happens, they already have an established relationship.

✉️ Encourage your child to write a letter to the pet or memorize it some way. Tell your kids that it’s okay to talk to their pets in heaven. Remembering is not bad, it’s good.

😢 Occasionally ask your child on a scale of 1-10 how sad they are about the loss. The number should be naturally going down over time. If not, it’s time to seek a counselor.

💬 Communicate to your kids that there’s nothing we together with God can’t get through. Give them hope and strength in the knowledge that you are capable. It might require help, but it’s okay to ask for help. If you do appear fragile, they will likely hide things from you.

Resources mentioned:
Braver, Stronger, Smarter: A Girl’s Guide to Overcoming Worry & Anxiety
Dog Heaven
FREE empathetic listening printable

Connect with Sissy: website | Instagram | Facebook | podcast

You can find more resources about mental health, parenting, and coping with anxiety at

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