After Crocodile Hunter Killed, How To Help Kids Cope With Death - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

9/5/06-Longview

After Crocodile Hunter Killed, How To Help Kids Cope With Death

Beth McGaughey is a licensed professional counselor with 16 years of experience. She says for children and adults alike, death is one of the hardest subjects to deal with.

"I think it's something people fear. It's the unknown," says McGaughey.

In the case of Steve Irwin, McGauhey says many children, especially young boys, had him on a pedestal. Seeing the way he fearlessly wrestled crocodiles and snakes made him almost super-human in their eyes. Because of that, the news of his death was even more shocking.

McGauhey says when parents decide to break the news to their children about Irwin's death, they should start by being straightforward and honest.

"The common misnomer they [parents] want to say is, 'They went to sleep,' or they've 'passed away,' but it really is better if you use the word die or death," says McGuaghey.

She says dancing around the subject can confuse children. If you're wondering just how much you should tell them, McGaughey says let your children guide you with the questions they ask.

"There's no telling what a little child might say, but I think if they're old enough to ask questions about it, that means they need some type of answer," says McGaughey.

McGaughey says the news of Irwin's death will probably affect his young fans, emotionally. She advises the best way to help them deal with the grief is to let them express it openly.

She also says if someone close to your child dies, like a family member, creating a memorial can be helpful.  She suggests planting a flower or a tree in their honor.

Loss of appetite, change in sleeping patterns, or sudden, violent outbursts can all be clues they're not dealing with it well.

Lindsay Wilcox/Reporting: lwilcox@klv.com

 

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