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New Advances in the Theory, Measurement, and Treatment of Childhood Grief

Losing a loved one during childhood can be very painful and it takes a long time for the children to recover and adapt to a new environment. Before dwelling into the treatment of childhood grief, Dr. Kaplow stated that it is hard to distinguish maladaptive reactions from adaptive reactions. In general, normal grief reactions can be very intense and are at least temporarily associated with decreased functioning. Maladaptive reactions are usually under traumatic circumstances, and 10% of bereaved children are found to be at risk. Dr. Kaplow introduced a Multidimensional Grief Theory with three components: separation distress, existential/identity distress, and circumstance-related distress. Studies found that avoidant coping strategies are associated with increase in PTSD, depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts, whereas children who are able to describe what happened and how they felt are much better than the more avoidant type in 6 months. Also, positive parenting is related to fewer symptoms of maladaptive grief in children.