Dealing with the death of a parent

Clinical Psychologist, Chris Fulton, PhD shares advice on the best ways to support a child after the death of a parent and how to help them through the grieving process
Helping A Child After The Death Of A Parent - Children & Grief
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Dealing with the death of a parent

Going through one of those tragedies, if it’s a death that we know it’s going to happen, what we try to do is best prepare a child. And what we do is obviously talk about it and we empathize with all the feelings that they’re going to go through, because they’re going to go through everything from some anger, obviously a mass amount of sadness and withdrawal. And you have to make sure that when they do get angry that you don’t overact. That you just sometimes hold them. Just give them that affection and other methods of reassurance. They’re going to want to know, “Hey, how is this going to change the other aspects of my life?” Again, if you can keep other things in their lives pretty consistent, it’s okay to have distractions and things like that, like their friends coming over or going on play dates and things. You don’t want to just sit and think about the death; you actually have to think about other things. You have to give the opportunity for your child to kind of get closure, to be able to communicate even after they die. Sometimes I have children write their favorite memories or write a letter to a deceased parent, depending on your spirituality or your religion. And I think it’s important that they don’t feel that they’ve lost some of that connection. You keep some of the deceased parent’s things around the house, but you don’t make the house a shrine. You can’t sit there and make the whole house pictures of the deceased parent, because you can overwhelm a child. They can end up thinking about it all the time and then you have a problem like depression and complicated bereavement.

Clinical Psychologist, Chris Fulton, PhD shares advice on the best ways to support a child after the death of a parent and how to help them through the grieving process


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Chris Fulton, PhD

Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Christopher Fulton is a licensed clinical psychologist and has been in private practice for over ten years. He received his doctorate in 1994 from the California School of Professional Psychology, Los Angeles. Dr. Fulton has clinical training and experience in a variety of settings, and also has administrative, teaching, supervision, consulting, research and psychological testing experience. Dr. Fulton provides consultation and ongoing therapy for children, adolescents and adults. He conducts group, individual, couples and family therapy and actively works with a variety of childhood disorders, including: adjustment disorder, ADHD, anxiety, depression, oppositional defiant and other emotional-behavioral disorders. Among his most frequent areas of concentration is divorce, for which Dr. Fulton offers therapy for all involved.

Utilizing research-supported methods in treatment, Dr. Fulton's approach to therapy involves a combination of cognitive-behavioral, family systems and interpersonal interventions. In his work with children, Dr. Fulton involves parents and assists them in developing appropriate responses to their children, since he believes that ultimately the parent will make the most significant impact on the child. Dr. Fulton helps parents establish appropriate boundaries, communication and methods of discipline in order to increase positive relationships with their children.

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