Faith & Spirituality​​

How do you talk to a young child about death?

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donna-fitzgerald
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Most preschoolers do not grasp the biological basis of death and tend to believe that death is a different state of life, like a prolonged sleep. At this age, children often say that only old and ill people die.

Typically, between the ages of four and 11, children gradually come to understand that death is universal, inevitable and irreversible, follows the breakdown of bodily functions, and leads to the cessation of all physical and mental processes. That is, by the age of 11, most children grasp the idea that all people – including their loved ones and themselves – will die one day and remain dead forever.

Another predictor of relatively early understanding is parents being better educated, irrespective of the child’s intelligence. This suggests that parents can and do help their child’s understanding of death by providing appropriate opportunities and clearly explaining the biological facts during the primary years.

The most important thing is to not shy away from the topic – don’t ignore a child’s questions or try to change the subject. Instead, see them as an opportunity to nurture their curiosity and contribute to their gradually gaining a better understanding of the life cycle. It is important to be honest and avoid ambiguity.
6 mths
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How do you think death should be explained to children? Do you think it should be factual or emotionally charged? How old is too young to discuss about death?
6 mths
mukts
mukts followed this discussion
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It is probably good to talk about it as soon as a child asks about it. So that when a death in the family or pet happens, the child won't be too shocked and confused. If waiting until there's a death in the family, parents might not have the time nor be emotionally stable as well to explain the situation to the child.
6 mths
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Just sticking to the truth and not painting any ugly details. Say something like the person died and won't be able to cuddle with you anymore, etc.
6 mths
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Kids are a lot smarter than we give them credit for. I think parents should take every opportunity presented to discuss about death. It shouldn't be a taboo topic to shy away from.
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hii
6 mths
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The best way is to be honest. The earlier they grasp what death is, the better they'll understand what it really is. There are some things you just can't sugarcoat.
6 mths
10 more people followed this discussion
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For me I believe there is a proper time and place for everything and I don't think children should be exposed to the gory details of death at such a young age but I also agree that you shouldn't sugar coat it so an age appropriate discussion that should be revisited every so often to update their knowledge.
6 mths
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hai
6 mths
Host
I introduce new concepts to my kids through books. So I'll probably do the same about death.
Edited
6 mths
lisa-brown, Mob68246, Iqbal and 7 other people started following this discussion
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its probably not the same situation but when I, was introduced to death it came as a" look at this chicken, hold the chicken while i sever its head off" kind of thing. growing up on a farm helped me with death. ive got siblings/friends wondering how they would introduce it to their kids and such. death is the most natural thing in ones lifespam, think about it. how do i introduce death to someone so young?, do as my father ," hold this chicken while i kill it","why dad?" you want to eat today right, son?" I said yes and i learned respect for all the animals we eat. i later grew up to start a large"now" million dollar buisness. if your son or daughter learns this. death from a rfelative seems more natural. forgive me for my redneck ways. also im a Viking. and also non english speaker.
6 mths
Host
I fear i may come out as a harsh fellow here, i just read the other responses. death is the most natural thing as long as it has a reason to it. give your child a reason for death and it will resonate within the loigical mind of the child. death may not have a reason ie. suicide, accidents and such. this is something a child should discover on its own mind some years later in my opinion. In advance sorry if my pressence here is not welcomed. Sofus.
6 mths
Host
You have to ready for their response. No matter how you approach this subject, your child will be upset, and maybe, even angry at the loss. Accept that this is your child’s emotional reactions. You will have time to address things again after your child's had time to process the initial traumatic reaction.
6 mths
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Typically, between the ages of four and 11, children gradually come to understand that death is universal, inevitable and irreversible, follows the breakdown of bodily functions, and leads to the cessation of all physical and mental processes.
Edited
6 mths
Host
I always tell this to parents. It's important to use the words dead or died. Many people find using the words dead or died uncomfortable in front of kids and prefer using phrases like, passed away, lost, crossed over, went to sleep but it shows that using realistic words to describe death helps the grieving process.
6 mths