A puddle-jumper

At break, a bereaved pupil is smiling and seems to be happily playing with friends. A few minutes later, during a maths lesson, the pupil becomes upset and needs a ‘time-out’.


  • Children and young people tend to jump in and out of their grief. We sometimes call this “puddle-jumping”.
  • Young people are not able to sustain long periods of grief and so will need time during their day to act normally and have some respite.
  • Bereaved young people can put on a “mask” in school to appear “normal” particularly when they are with their friends.
  • Concentration can be difficult for bereaved pupils.
  • Seemingly innocuous activities within the classroom may have caused a memory to surface when it was not expected.

What might help:

  • Allow the pupil some time to grieve in a safe space.
  • Let the pupil know you are there for them, with no expectation for them to talk.
  • Inform other members of staff.
  • A little later, check to see if there was a specific trigger and if anything needs to be adapted as a result.
  • Provide an opportunity to catch up with any significant work missed.
  • Ensure the pupil has someone to check in with them later in the day.
  • Identify whether any additional support or follow up is required.