Goodbye is the one of the hardest emotions to totally express for adult, how much more kids?
My elder sister just relocated to Canada and I heard while they were saying their goodbye to my Parents and other siblings(thank God I was not there) that they went into full-blown tears, wailing etc, not because they won’t meet again but because the emotions of not just being as close to each other geographically can really make you feel sad.
My Kids have had to tell over Ten to Twelve of their friends goodbye recently and the first was because my daughter was changing school and even though I had explained over and over that she was moving to join her sister in the same school, she never full grasped the gravity of what that meant.
It was so emotional for me when she left the school, she kept asking to go back from time to time, it was like moving from the known to the unknown and she couldn’t totally express it. When I was younger, My best friend moved and till today, I cannot explain the way I felt, it was like something was ripped from me, more like grabbed and I could relate with what my daughter was going through at the time, then more friends started leaving, from neighbours we were very close with, to friends we see every Christmas, to her first crush and even family she spends holiday with and I thought, I have to teach these kids about goodbyes and help them manage goodbyes… So here are a few things they could help
Explain to them that goodbyes are inevitable – Tell them what it is, don’t try to block the emotions by acting like that friend never existed, have conversation about the person’s departure if privy to the information and if not, explain to them that people also don’t know how to say goodbye
Let them know it is okay to feel sad -It is okay to feel sad, it is okay to want to visit that friend or speak with that friend everyday, it is okay to cry.
Do everything possible to keep communication line open with their friends– For my daughter leaving her school was her first goodbye, she had her first crush there, she had her best friend and a few other friends, so when I knew our leaving was inevitable imediately I started a relationship with all the best friends parents, including her crush, at the end of the day, her friends parent actually became my friends and the goodbye wasn’t as hard because we had various playdates etc.
Engage them: When my neighbour was leaving, it was super hard because part of my kids routine and her kids as well, was to come over to my house , eat, take a bath etc, we were co-existing as it were, so when they moved I engaged my kids more by starting Piano and swimming classes, if not they would be bored and miss the friend more but cannot fully articulate the feeling which might make them start making up reasons in their minds, that we might have to deal with in the future
Finally let them know it would be fine.
Various kids react in different ways when a friend or family member leaves as for Lady A, she wanted to relocate too and kept thinking they would come back but Baby J on the other hand internalised most of her feelings, so whenever she expressed herself, I give her all the attention needed and sometimes I even ask her about her feelings.
These are some of my tips on coping with goodbyes for kids, Have your kids ever had to say goodbye to their friends, what did you do and how did they take it?