Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Parent to Parent: Death of a Pet
It is a topic every parent dreads. Discussing the death of a pet is never easy with children of any age. But in tonight's Parent to Parent, Dr. Valerie has a few suggestions on how to help your kids cope.
WSVN -- Eight-year-old Leann Briguera is crazy about canines.
Leann: "I just, like, want more pets, because I love animals. I love my pets."
But a few years ago, her beloved dogs Sammy and Cody started to show their age.
Jan: "When our pets have passed on, Leann reacted I think pretty normal, like any child would. She was confused, she had questions, and she was distraught. She was emotional, and she would talk about it quite often.
7's parenting expert Dr.Valerie says it's perfectly normal for a child to go through the grieving process after the loss of a pet.
To help them cope, encourage your child to share their feelings.
Dr.Valerie: "You can invite him to express feeling when he's ready, if he's ready. But understand that he's doing it in the way he feels most comfortable."
In some situations, your child may feel most comfortable expressing his or her thoughts on paper.
Ask them to write a story or draw a picture.
Dr. Valerie: "What you're explaining, animals give you great opportunity to speak about life with your child, and that's important."
It's also important to explain that life sometimes includes illness.
When a pet is sick, don't ignore the situation. Tell your child as much as you think they can handle, and let them play a role in the animal's care.
Dr. Valerie: "We see this every single day. It's the same way you'd prepare them if Grandma had a serious disease. But you don't just shut them out of that experience. You try to be as loving as possible."
Then, when the inevitable does happen, don't rush out and replace the pet. Hurt feelings need time to heal. Dr. Valerie suggests waiting at least a month to add a new member to the family.
Dr.Valerie: "You can't replace friends, and you can't replace mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers. That person has a special memory, or that animal has a special memory in your heart. So, just sit with it for a little while."
Leann is holding onto the memories of her precious pets. But along with her loss, she's learning how to let go.
Jan: "There's a cycle of life. Everything begins and everything ends, and unfortunately, when you do have pets in your home, you get attached. It's all part of the learning process -- to learn to love but also to learn to let go and grieve."
Dr. Valerie also suggests making a pet scrapbook with your child.This will help them remember the happy times they shared.
IF YOU HAVE A CONCERN DR. VALERIE CAN HELP YOU WITH, E-MAIL US AT:
Dr. Valerie Goode
7711 SW 62 Ave.
Miami, FL 33143