Child Development


Childdevelopment: An elementary school student who is dealing with theloss of her pet

AnnaJordan is an elementary school student studying in Upperhill School.She is turning twelve in two months’ time. She is the only child inthe family. Born and raised in a middle-class family, her fatherworks as a train operator and her mother is a sales representativefor a pharmaceutical company. Although Anna can take the bus toschool, her mother usually drives her in the morning, but she ridesthe bus in the evening.

Afew years ago, Aunt Penny gave Anna a kitten as a birthday present.Trish was then a little but grew up into a beautiful cat. As the onlychild, Anna formed a strong bond with her pet. She would play withher, give her presents and sometimes when mom was not watching theywould sneak and curl up on the bed. Ann’s father, Mr. Jordan has avery busy schedule because of his type of job. He usually works lateinto the night and leaves early in the morning. He has time with herdaughter only during weekends and holidays when he is off work. Mrs.Jordan, on the other hand, has more time to spare for her child, andshe sometimes takes Anna for walks but mostly during weekends and onspecial occasions.

Aweek ago, Trish the cat was found dead and this turned out to have ahuge effect on Anna. Ever since that day, she has been upset most ofthe time and cries a lot too. Also, she has not been concentrating onher homework, and she keeps saying that life is not fair. It is clearthat Anna is overwhelmed by the loss of her beloved pet and shebelieves that she has been left alone. Coming home to an empty housewaiting for her parents to arrive from work makes her lonely.

Apparently,there are other friends and neighbors whose pets are still alive, andAnna is not able to comprehend why it’s only hers that had to die.Based on the age group she’s in, she portrays the typical bouts ofcrying and sadness. All these raise the fact that she needs comfortadequately. Since children have limited time and inadequateexperience concerning adjustment to these kinds of situations, theyare more vulnerable to loss. In this case, the death of the pet wassudden and unexpected, and this was part of the main reason as to whyAnna exhibited these conditions.


Thedeath of a pet may activate a wide variety of responses from youngchildren, and there need to be intervention measures that will assistthe young ones to deal with the loss. Although some people may wantto create stories about death, it is important to note that thisbehavior is healthy and normal for them in order to express theirfeelings, grief and disappointment should be encouraged. How thesituation is handled has significant implications in the way the kidswill perceive a loss in the future [ CITATION Moi07 l 1033 ].One of the interventions that can be applied in this case involvestalking to Anna in a language that she understands. By encouragingher to express her feelings and unhappiness,then the real issues she is experiencing can be better understood.Also, speaking out about a problem frees the mind and fosters an auraof mutual compassion between the child and the listener. It isimportant to let her know that being sad and mourning for her belovedpet is okay because the truth of the matter is that she loved the petonly so much. After all, grief is a vital indicator that the younggirl had learned to love [ CITATION Pat15 l 1033 ].The outcome of this intervention is based on the development of freeinteraction and trust that is reassuring to her state of mind.

Thechance to interact with Anna is a favorable opportunity to fostercompassion and empathy. While comforting someone by talking is avital aspect of the intervention process, making it clear that youunderstand how she feels, is equally important in soothing the youngone. According to Ghezzi (2015), most children between the age of 10and 12 express their sorrow by a lot of crying, and they need a lotof comfort. It is thus that several ways of consoling can be put intouse. Remembrance of the pet can serve as one of the best techniques,and it may involve the creation of a memory book, taking photos andplacing them in a special area, or even developing a scrapbook.Sometimes making up a funeral service and then planting a tree in thememory of the pet can turn out to be comforting to the child.Offering relief to her would help her deal with the loss morecomfortably [ CITATION Kar12 l 1033 ].

Buildingtrust is also a vital aspect in the treatment of Anna’s situation.When such events occur, the ability to go through them builds faithand confidence. This is why experts have suggested that it is notadvisable to obtain another pet immediately. On the contrary, thechild should be accompanied throughout the mourning period. Thetogetherness and the loss must be indicated to be felt by everymember of the family. By explaining that the other household membersneed time to mourn the loss of the death, she would feel that she isnot alone in her demise, and the support will help her to cope evenbetter [ CITATION Wal14 l 1033 ].

TheRelevant Theory

TheErikson’s stages of psychosocial development describe the series ofeight steps beginning from childhood to adulthood. These phases areexperienced depending on the challenges and the events that a personundergoes during growth and development. Being able to deal with thebiological and sociocultural forces successfully characterizes anindividual’s psychological and social advancement.

Thefourth stage of the psychosocial development involves competence. Thecentral question that a person in this phase tends to ask is “WillI be able to live successfully in this world?” the children at thisage are a bit more reasonable, responsible and cooperative. The moralvalues have been developed, and they can be able to perform most ofthe tasks allocated to school. However, if they are not handledcarefully, they may develop characteristics of inferiority concerningtheir abilities.

Basedon this theory, Anna falls at this age of development, and theaspects that are involved in her situation are related to those ofthe theory. By taking into consideration the event that has happenedto her, we can be able to apply the various features of thisdevelopment stage in her situation successfully. Industry versusinferiority has been indicated in children between 5 years and 12years of age where a productive situation grows and later overshadowsthe play and fun. On the other hand, failure to create trust,autonomy, and productive abilities can lead to a state of shame,guilt, and lowliness or weakness [ CITATION Pat15 l 1033 ].


Becausethe child has begun to understand the various aspects of life at thisstage, one of the most favorable interventions should involve theexplanation of the situation at hand. In this case, Anna has someinformation concerning death. How the loss of her beloved pet shouldbe explained to her so that she can acquire the knowledge and alsoget to know how to cope with other losses throughout her lifetime. Inthis regard, care must be taken to avoid giving information that ismisleading just to make her feel better. For instance, saying thatthe cat is asleep might be taken literally but it may be better totell her about death plainly. The questions she will ask will mostlikely guide the responses given since they elaborate her level ofknowledge on the loss of life [ CITATION Wal14 l 1033 ].

Reassuranceis also a crucial intervention. At this phase of development, thechild has gained sufficient knowledge and skills which are enough tobe concerned about the bad things that happen. For example, a childmay show worry about the death of parents by relating to the pet thatwas very close to her. The distress and anxiety in such an event canlead to various adverse manners such as antisocial behaviors, guilt,withdrawal or clinging behavior [ CITATION Moi07 l 1033 ].At this point, it is paramount to provide reassurance to herby elaborating that she is not to blame for the death of the cat butgiving an enlightenment of why it happened in the easiest and bestway possible [ CITATION Wal14 l 1033 ].


Twomajor cultural factors need to be addressed in the case of Anna. Thefirst one is age. The oldness of the child determines how thesituation will be handled and based on her age group conducivecriteria will be developed to guide the provision of information in astrictly relevant and easily comprehended way. Secondly, the languagemust also be put into consideration. It is important to pass themessage across to her in the language that she can understand whileat the same time avoiding using terms that may be misunderstood.


Theuse of video-conferencing can prove to be an efficient tool forcommunicating with this client. Because her parents are not readilyavailable to take her for the usual formal meetings, a conferencecall can prove to be both timely and convenient for Anna. Theadvantages of using this method are that she can be able to talk, askquestions and get clarifications at any time, even at night.Additionally, the fact that we can see each other is almost similarto the face to face meeting albeit in different places. This meansthat distance will not deny her the possibility of obtainingassistance. The disadvantage of this mode is that, although we cansee each other, other factors are left unattended. This includes theaspects of touch and comfort that could be accorded in an actualtraditional setting. Also, the family may not have access to thevideo-conferencing facilities making it hard to achieve their goal.


Allen, M. A. (2007). Coping with Sorrow on the Loss of Your Pet. Indianapolis: Dog Ear Publishing.

Becker, K. (2012). Helping Your Child Grieve the Loss of a Pet. Retrieved from Healthy Pets:

Ghezzi, P. (2015, September 28). Helping Kids Cope With the Death of a Pet. Retrieved from School Family:

Sife, W. (2014). The Loss of a Pet: a Guide to Coping with the Grieving Process when a Pet Dies. New York: Howell Book House. Retrieved from Scholastic.