It is important to remember however that all children develop at different rates and that children experience life uniquely. Copyright © 1999-2019 Parenting Today, LLC - All Rights Reserved. Seat your child next to you or someone they are familiar with who is able to cope with their questions and be prepared to offer explanations. Possibly the best way to answer a question is by asking a clarifying question in return: “Are you worried that I won’t be here to take care of you?” If that is the case, the reassuring and appropriate answer would be something like, “I don’t expect to die for a long time. Posted by 7 years ago. Your approach to discussing death will depend on your child's level of understanding of 4 main concepts of death: 1. The dying themselves often find it very hard to express what they are feeling or what they would like. This too is normal, even if it strikes you as morbid, so don't discourage this important way for her to work through her feelings about death. UK death & bereavement statistics. For some, the worry trigger is a story. Then my daughter's friend's grandma died in May (who we saw and had a lot to do with). And many delay grieving until they feel it's safe to let those feelings out — a process that could take months or even years, particularly if they've lost a parent or a sibling. Ensure that your child has an affiliation for your terms so they feel familiar and can understand. They may associate images with death, such as a skeleton. Cure collusion (refusing to face the truth, or pretending everything’s alright) with relatives,doctors and c… They may wonder why everyone is so unhappy when they say that Tommy is happy. Children process grief in bite-sized chunks, not all at once. Then Nana's Cat Died. NEW eBook: Reduce Screen Time and Increase Family Fun, Fitness and Connectedness. Sharing feelings between you and your child will benefit you both. They may believe that the deceased still eat, sleep, and do normal things — except that they do them up in the sky or down in the ground. Talking about death with a three year old. This is a natural time to clarify any misunderstandings they may have about death. The other day, Charlie spontaneously and innocently asked me a question. Discuss miscarriage. At this age, it's most helpful to explain death in terms of physical functions that have ceased, rather than launching into a complicated discussion of a particular illness: "Now that Uncle John has died, his body has stopped working. A fascinating op-ed from the Times last year takes on kids and lying. The best thing is to make it clear when someone dies, they can no longer, talk, hug or be seen again quite clinical approach. There is no age or point in time that makes it any easier. We can encourage their communication by showing attention and respect for what they have to say. It’s not only relatives and friends who might find it difficult to talk about what’s happening. The #1 app for tracking pregnancy and baby growth. Don't frighten your child with excessive grief, but don't make the subject off-limits, either. The child needs an answer. They hear about it in fairy tales, see it on TV, and encounter dead bugs, birds, or squirrels on the sidewalk or roadside. We may be surprised at how aware children already are about death. Don't be surprised if your child becomes clingy, regresses in toilet training, reverts to baby talk, or suddenly balks at going to her familiar preschool. Should I be good so I can be with her in heaven, or bad so I can stay here with Mom and Dad? Being cared for is a realistic and practical concern, and a child needs to be reassured. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine or psychology, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or mental health care provider. As time passes and children have new experiences, they will need further explanations and sharing of ideas and thoughts. How to disconnect to reconnect so you can grow and have fun together. Inevitability (i.e., death is universal for all living things) 4. Even when a parent or a sibling has died, preschoolers often don't see death as something that can happen to them. Subscribe to Child Development Institute so you never miss out on a mustread article.​. He can't walk or run, or eat or sleep or see anymore, and he doesn't feel any pain.". Children often feel guilty and angry when they lose a close family member. It will help if you give your child a little bit of information at a time. There is an attic above us, but we have a clear view of the semi-transparent roof. It is important to check which words you use when discussing death with your kids. I seem to recall talking a lot about it "only being when you are very very old or very very ill". Do I have a psychopath? However we do expect that we will live a very long time (always reassure them)! Some children may have already experienced the death of a pet or a family member. She had so much fun with you.". My 4 year old has really been through it this year... My nan died last Christmas, and then my other nans best friend died shortly after. I Wasn't Ready to Talk to My 3-Year-Old About Death. When there are problems at home, such as parents fighting, divorce or a death in the family, children can become withdrawn and upset. Despite this, there are aspects of death that kids this age still can't understand. No matter how many times you explain it, preschoolers can't really understand what causes death, and they may think of it as something that's temporary and reversible. She needs to get to bed on time, get up on time, eat meals on time, and, if she's in nursery school, go back to the friends and fun she has there. If Grandpa was sick before he died, be sure to reassure your child that if she gets sick from a cold or flu, it doesn't mean she'll die. For example, death may be made more clear by explaining it in terms of the absence of familiar life functions – when people die they do not breathe, eat, talk, think, or feel any more; when dogs die they do not bark or run any more; dead flowers do not grow or bloom any more. Here are some tips: 1. Kids this age react to death in a variety of ways. We should never associate tears and expressing feelings with weakness. Children learn through repetition so they may need to go over this quite a few times. Children sometimes get confused with what they hear so it is important you check their understanding by revisiting the subject at appropriate times. Help her respond to media coverage of death. They have their own personal ways of handling and expressing emotions. Give brief, simple answers. I expect to be here to take care of you as long as you need me, but if I did die, there are lots of people to take care of you. See tips on answering your preschoolers' most common questions about death. answering your preschoolers' most common questions about death, Questions about death: What preschoolers ask ... what parents answer, How to talk to your kindergartner about death, How to talk to your grade-schooler about death, How to talk to your child when someone is seriously ill (ages 5 to 8), How to raise a spiritual child (ages 2 to 4), the most helpful and trustworthy pregnancy and parenting information. There was no way my three-year-old, already slightly worryingly in touch with his feminine side, was going out in that hat. A family dog or cat is often a child's first and best playmate, offering unconditional love and companionship. Explain that there are different ways people get sick, and that we recover from minor illnesses like the ones your child usually has. The agony of losing a child of any age is unparalleled. Reassure your preschooler that nothing she said or did caused the death, and don't be surprised if she expresses anger toward you, the doctors and nurses, or even the deceased. They see dead insects, dead birds and animals on the road or a family pet may have died. They tend to not relate it to themselves and consider the idea that they can escape it. Talking about death with a three year old. Grandpa “went away” and hasn’t come back yet. If you think a child you know has a problem, it can be hard to know how to start talking to them about it. Some children confuse death with sleep, particularly if they hear adults refer to death with one of the many euphemisms for sleep – “they died in their sleep”, “eternal rest”, “rest in peace.” Resulting from this confusion, a child may be afraid of going to bed, incase they don’t wake up either! Be ready to field the same questions from your child over and over again, since understanding the permanence of death is a struggle for her. If the death is violent or aggressive however, you need to reassure your child that they are safe and most people do not behave this way towards each other. Ask for help from friends and relatives, and remember that the more you help yourself cope, the better you'll be able to help your child cope, both now and later. For example, they can't grasp that death is permanent, inevitable, and happens to everyone, explains Michael Towne, a child-life specialist who works with grieving families at the University of California-San Francisco Medical Center. Children tend to be extremely curious when they discover death, particularly dead flowers, birds, trees and insects. Maybe Mummy won’t come back from the shops or from work. Be prepared for a variety of reactions. my daughter who is 3 going to be 4 in October has this obsession about death. Other messages may confuse children, including statements such as “Tommy is happy in Heaven with the angels”. And suddenly, the moment I have dreaded since becoming a parent was beginning to unravel. November 21, 2014 by Michelle. This may open windows of opportunity to discuss death further and answer all the detailed questions that may arise. From nine through to adolescence, children to begin to understand fully that death is irreversible and that they too will die some day. Get help. For a while after that he had the idea that people just pop off when they reach 100 LOL! For example, when someone dies they don’t breathe, or eat, or feel hungry or cold and you won’t be able to see them again. Don't downplay the death of a pet. It is important to help children understand the realities of death, being the loss and the grief. If you're deeply bereaved by a recent death, do your best to guide your child through the difficult times, but don't expect yourself to be perfect. It is important to explain death in simple terms for young children. No parent expects to face the death of their child and no grandparent expects to lose their grandchild. She's also likely to come up with new questions as her awareness of death and her cognitive skills grow, grief counselors say. Instead, offer her lots of sympathy for her loss, and expect the same kinds of ongoing mourning and repeated questions that you'd get if a person she cared for had died. For instance they might be confused as to how one person can be in a grave and also be in heaven at the same time. We bottle it up and hope that by saying nothing will help it go away. Some kids worry a lot about death, whether or not they’ve lost someone close. March 2007. For instance, a question such as, “When will you die?” needs to be heard with the realisation that the young child perceives death as temporary. In stories they read or watch characters will often suddenly rise up alive again after being totally destroyed. A parent of children under 18 dies every 22 minutes in the UK; around 23,600 a year. Without realising it they already have some exposure to the concept. Don't dodge her questions. Your preschooler is keenly aware of changes in your mood, and she'll be even more worried if she senses that something is wrong but that you're trying to hide it. Talk about all aspects of toddlerhood including finding the right pre-school, dealing with tantrums, and ideas for keeping little ones entertained at home. 3-Year-old Talking "Playing" About Death Since My Grandmother Died. It is not uncommon for a three year old to ask questions about death, for a child to be openly unconcerned about the death of a grandparent yet devastated over the death of a pet. Other opportunities to discuss death with your kids arise when well-known persons die and their funeral receives a lot of media coverage. Irreversibility (i.e., death is permanent) 2. Fear of loss 3. Unless your discussion of death follows in the wake of a personal tragedy, the way you talk to your child about death should be similar to the way you talk about sex. They may fear that God will come and take them away as He did big sister. Our body language, emotions on our faces, what we say and what we don’t say are all communicating a message to our kids.When we choose not to discuss an issue with ou… Tread carefully when discussing God and heaven. When a child associates death only with old age, they can become very confused when they learn that young people can die too. Your child may still be somewhat oblivious to the widely publicized deaths of media figures or to news coverage of national disasters or wars. Among them may be whether to talk to their sick child and their siblings about the possibility of death. But she will pick up on the fact that you're sad or anxious, and she's also likely to hear older children discussing these events. Walking outside, my … she had met my grandmother before - many times actually - so we felt like we needed to tell her. Therefore, it is important to avoid such words as “sleep”, “rest”, or “went away” when talking to a child about death. Posted Dec 04, 2016 Please note, as this is a peer-to-peer discussion board, Netmums has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. Archived. Preschool children mostly see death as temporary, reversible and impersonal. or how her fiance jumped off a bridge. If your preschooler seems to be having an especially difficult time coping — if she's terrified of going to sleep, for example, or seems depressed — talk to your healthcare provider about professional counseling. Live a very sad occasion and that they have their own personal ways of handling and expressing emotions grieving an! 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