No matter what types of behavior a child is expressing after saying goodbye to a jailed parent, it is important to remember that they will not express their feelings the same way an adult would. With this understanding, you can invite a broader range of patience when dealing with a distress youth. Continue reading to learn how to help a child with a jailed parent, and tips to get through the experience together.
Helping with Care, Love, and Attention
The most important tip is to pay close attention to what a child is telling you. Listen to them carefully and let them know they are being heard. Never be judgmental, and remember that post-jail visits, holidays, and birthdays can make a child act out and feel more pain and frustration. Learn to combat these episodes with healthy communication. This will allow you to develop trust with the child which will make them feel safer.
When a child of a jailed parent asks questions, try your best to answer them responsibly. Obviously, we don’t and can’t always be 100% honest with children, but paying attention to their questions and concerns will make them feel more comfortable communicating with you.
Consider a family therapist or counselor. These professionals are wonderful mediators, and are trained to speak with children experiencing stress or loss in their lives. This can be a great way for a child to feel comfortable opening up about their feelings in a safe zone.
And last, if it is healthy for the child and the parent is in a good state of mind, continue scheduling routine visits and phone calls so the child can stay as connected as they can to their parents. This is an effective way for children to deal with their grief. By hearing their parents be positive and by knowing they are okay, kids can better accept their circumstances.