Updated: Jul 18
Some kids seem to sail through grief with no problems, while others get stuck. Some kids clam up and do not want to talk at all about it. There are many games available to help get the discussion going. For those who prefer to not discuss their emotions, there are coping skill and CBT games that may help them process it on their own. I’ve had a few kids make huge progress without ever opening up and talking about what had happened. However, they were willing to do the work on their own. Here’s a link to learn more about what to do with kids who would rather not talk.
Most of these games are similar in the goal: using play as a tool to help kids process emotions, find coping skills, and work through areas where they are stuck. I’m also adding games specific to coping skills and CBT to broaden the scope of the work.
By Mental Fills
This game is specifically addressing thought distortions that are typical for kids to experience after the loss of a loved one as well as the emotions that occur.
By Mental Fills
This is a simple game to help children process grief and loss. They roll the die and respond to the question for the given number from the printout of this game.
The Memory Box is based on the common intervention of creating a memory box to process the loss of a loved one. They will be able to identify many aspects of loss and grief, including happy memories, how they learned of the loss, emotional reactions, and how the loss has impacted the child's daily life. It includes cognitive behavioral therapy interventions to help children process the loss of a loved one.
By Mental Fills
I was really excited to find this resource. Suicide is tough and there seem to be very few resources available to address the issue. I'm thankful to have a new tool to add for kids who have experienced the loss of someone due to suicide.
Feelings Candy Land can really be used for just about any presenting problem. It is low-key, offers a way for kids to verbalize emotions, develops an emotional vocabulary, as well as many other ways it can be beneficial in therapy. Even if kids choose to not discuss their loss while playing, they are still developing the skill of communicating emotions and are connecting their emotions to thoughts, which helps release pent-up frustration and internalization for emotions. Sometimes it takes a while before kids are ready to open up. That's OK. At least they will have a mechanism for talking about it when the time is right.
By Mental Fills
This is a story about grief and includes activities to go along with it. Kids will often relate to a character in a book, which will trigger an emotional response. They may show empathy towards the frog and want to provide support. It could generate an angry response or spark sadness. Regardless of how they emotionally respond, it provides the opportunity to process the loss and grief. Stories can also reframe thoughts and help kids see things from a different perspective.
This is a grief game specifically for the loss of a pet. It allows children to process many emotions related to grief and to memorialize the memories of their pet. If the child saw the death of their animal and has a traumatic response, they can process those emotions and thoughts as well.
By WholeHearted School Counseling
This is a card game for helping children process emotions related to grief and loss. She also has an online version of this game if you are practicing via tehehealth.
by Mrs. Kathy King
I love this free printable. It is a cute game board that includes the characters from Inside Out as well as the islands of personality. You could use this game in many ways. One way is to print the board and then color the spaces to match the colors of the feelings characters. Each turn they can talk about a time they felt that emotion (similar to Feelings Candy Land).
The other way I play it is to color the spaces to match the islands of personality. Each turn the kids are able to discuss how the different islands are meaningful. They can also identify the islands of their own identity. You could further process grief and loss by identifying how the loss will impact those islands.
Who knew there were so many affordable options to address grief in kids through playing games? I tend to consider my counseling room as a giant toolbox and each intervention is a tool. Some tools are general and can be used in many ways while others are specific and targeted. I like to have MANY tools on hand, as you never know which one the client is going to need the most. I also like to offer many options, as each therapist has different modalities, some are traveling, and some are using telehealth. I'd love to hear about your favorite games for grief and ways to use these games for various treatment modalities.
Be sure to check out the other posts in this series: Counseling Games You Can Play For FREE!