Developmental Responses to Separation and Loss

By TLC
Posted on October 28, 2013, in Grief and Trauma
Age Range  Developmental Responses to Separation/Loss

Infancy - 3 years

  • Increased irritability, due to change in environment, caregiver, and routine
  • Change in appetitite/sleep patterns
  • Sense trauma and change through senses (i.e. touch of others)

3 - 6 years
Magical Thinking Stage

 

  • Increased separation anxiety (More "clingy" behavior)
  • Regression
  • Increased irritability, due to change in environment, caregiver, and routine
7 - 9 years
Concrete Thinking Stage
  • Believe they caused death
  • Interested in physical aftermath of body
  • Increased physical activity, especially males
  • Violent play, even if the death was not violent

10 - 13 years
Needs Answers NOW Stage

 

  • Constantly waiting for something else to happen (hypervigilance) -unsafe/daring behaviors
  • Increased physical activity, especially males
  • Needs to know answers regarding death immediately
  • Suicidal ideations
14 and up Problem Solving & Abstract Thinking Stage
  • Intense & increased emotions
  • Constantly waiting for something else to happen (hypervigilance) -unsafe/daring behaviors
  • Depression
  • Suicidal ideations
  • Questioning own morbidity
  • May refuse to discuss death or grief issues, DO NOT pressure them to talk
All Children May Experience:
  • Intrusive nightmares where they are the victims in the nightmare, which results in sleeplessness
  • Decreased sense of safety
  • Decreased appetite
  • Behavior and personality changes (i.e. social to anti-social)
  • Anger
  • Guilt
  • Increased irritability
  • Decrease in academic achievement

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