It also helps to talk about the good relationship she had with the person who died: "Remember when you and Grandma went blueberry picking? My son is almost three and a half and says scary things: ''I want to take a big knife and chop you into pieces and eat you,'' ''I want to take my car and smash that woman and make her dead.'' It’s not surprising they don’t understand, yet it is appropriate for their age level to think this way. Don't frighten your child with excessive grief, but don't make the subject off-limits, either. Nor can they comprehend that being dead means that the body no longer functions. Why relatives and friends won’t talk about it Reasons may include: 1. Don't downplay the death of a pet. Always be calm and factual answering your children’s questions. “I told her it’s no longer living and what that meant: It can’t take up water anymore or grow with sunlight. For example, the explanation “Big sister is with God now” may comfort an adult, but frighten a child. Preschoolers are aware of death from early on. Other messages may confuse children, including statements such as “Tommy is happy in Heaven with the angels”. If we are unable to speak openly about death, it can increase their sense of being unsafe. Please note, as this is a peer-to-peer discussion board, Netmums has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. Similarly, if children are told that someone who died “went away”, brief separations may begin to worry them. 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. See tips on answering your preschoolers' most common questions about death. I Wasn't Ready to Talk to My 3-Year-Old About Death. “I recently talked to my 3-year-old about our houseplant that died,” says Schopen. or how her fiance jumped off a bridge. The Do's and Don'ts of Talking with a Child about Death Parenting tips to help grieving children. 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. Subscribe to Child Development Institute so you never miss out on a mustread article.​. Explanations of death and the afterlife will of course depend on your own religious beliefs. Our recommendations for books on child development for parents. 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… Answer her questions about death, and don't be afraid to read stories about children whose pets or grandparents die. 3-Year-old Talking "Playing" About Death Since My Grandmother Died. Some upset is to be expected, of course, but the sooner your preschooler's routine gets back to normal, the easier it will be for her. If you think a child you know has a problem, it can be hard to know how to start talking to them about it. Last week a thrush flew into our front window and killed itself . If your child is to attend a funeral, they need to be prepared beforehand for what they might see and hear before, during and after the service. If you tell your preschooler, "Janie's happy now, because she's in heaven," for instance, she may worry: How can Janie really be happy if everyone around me is so sad? They need reassurance that they have been, and will continue to be, loved and cared for. Explain that there are different ways people get sick, and that we recover from minor illnesses like the ones your child usually has. 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. Expect the subject to come up repeatedly. They know something is wrong by simply watching us. If your child prefers to not attend the funeral, they must not be forced. 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. Many people feel challenged when approaching the subject of death to preschoolers and young children. This is a natural time to clarify any misunderstandings they may have about death. It's also important to help a preschooler understand basics such as who's going to take care of her. A fascinating op-ed from the Times last year takes on kids and lying. Children need to maintain their activities and interests as they desire and revisit questions regularly. When a child associates death only with old age, they can become very confused when they learn that young people can die too. Talking to your child about the death of someone close may be the hardest thing you ever have to do. NEW eBook: Reduce Screen Time and Increase Family Fun, Fitness and Connectedness. As time passes and children have new experiences, they will need further explanations and sharing of ideas and thoughts. Don't dodge her questions. 1. 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. But you may be surprised to discover that your preschooler is also upset, even if her understanding of the pregnancy was still a bit sketchy. Finality (i.e., all functioning stops with death) 3. No parent expects to face the death of their child and no grandparent expects to lose their grandchild. She can light a candle at home, sing a song, draw a picture, or take part in some other ritual observance. Your preschooler may not be ready to attend a funeral (particularly an open-casket wake), but she can participate in memorial services in whatever ways she might feel comfortable. Your preschooler may also engage in behaviors that seem odd to you, such as playing dead. We can encourage their communication by showing attention and respect for what they have to say. When preparing a child for an anticipated death, allow them to help care for the dying person if they desire, receive lots of affection and answer questions, be given information about the physical, emotional, and mental condition of the terminally ill person and be given a choice of visiting or remaining away. We avoid talking about things that upset us. 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. After all, her daily routines may have been interrupted, she's struggling to understand why the adults around her are so sad, and the world may suddenly seem ominous to her in a way that it hadn't before. My grandmother passed away a little over a month ago, and my 3 1/2 year old daughter knows about it. They need a lot of reassurance that they are safe and loved and be made feel that they can discuss their feelings openly. 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. Be prepared for a variety of reactions. Talk about all aspects of toddlerhood including finding the right pre-school, dealing with tantrums, and ideas for keeping little ones entertained at home. Ensure that your child has an affiliation for your terms so they feel familiar and can understand. Get help. Children tend to be extremely curious when they discover death, particularly dead flowers, birds, trees and insects. They need to hear about the sadness being felt from losing Tommy, along with our expressions of religious faith. For a while after that he had the idea that people just pop off when they reach 100 LOL! Updated on May 01, 2008 S.L. Try not to say, "Don't feel bad, Rover is in heaven now" — this teaches her that her very real sadness is inappropriate. Grandpa “went away” and hasn’t come back yet. 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. However we do expect that we will live a very long time (always reassure them)! 8 1 18. If you say too much in one go, he may become confused and upset because he doesn’t understand. Children not only feel sorrow over the death of a loved one, they may also feel guilt or anger. 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! Trying to shelter children from these realities only denies them from the opportunity to express their feelings and be comforted. Explain that it is a very sad occasion and that some people will be crying and others feeling very sad. The #1 app for tracking pregnancy and baby growth. Some children may have already experienced the death of a pet or a family member. 3-year-old's violent talk. Nothing works better than talking about death, easily, factually, calmly – maybe not every day, but often. Talking about death with a three year old. 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. They hear about it in fairy tales, see it on TV, and encounter dead bugs, birds, or squirrels on the sidewalk or roadside. 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. Put emotions into words. This may open windows of opportunity to discuss death further and answer all the detailed questions that may arise. Let your child say goodbye by drawing a picture or making a special gift for the departed baby. Then my daughter's friend's grandma died in May (who we saw and had a lot to do with). We had a little ceremony and dug a hole in the flower bed to put it in. We live in an apartment building, on the top floor. 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. "She thinks, 'If Mom dies, who's going to give me my bath?' 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. Feeding the parakeet or goldfish regularly may have made her feel proud and grown up. We all feel sad when someone we care about dies.”. The best thing is to make it clear when someone dies, they can no longer, talk, hug or be seen again quite clinical approach. When they hear that sickness was the cause of death, we don’t want them to assume that minor ailments are a cause for major concern. ... "I want to get a dog for a pet because dogs don’t die," my 3-year-old son declared matter-of-factly from his car seat. Help her respond to media coverage of death. Memorialize the deceased. Children are sensitive barometers of emotion and are tremendous observers. In fact, less emotionally fraught times are good opportunities for laying groundwork that will help your child cope when she does lose someone. A place to chat about parenting toddlers with other Netmums. asks from Greer, SC on April 28, 2008 14 answers. Show them that it is kind to acknowledge a loss and express care towards others. Chickened out of bringing up heaven etc (really couldn't explain that one to a 3 year old), so said that we put him in the ground to help the flowers grow. It is important to explain death in simple terms for young children. By being open with our emotions and showing our sorrow and tears, expresses to our children that it is okay that they also feel sad and cry. When there are problems at home, such as parents fighting, divorce or a death in the family, children can become withdrawn and upset. She had so much fun with you.". 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. 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. It will help if you give your child a little bit of information at a time. Don't worry that you didn't explain the death adequately the first time — your child's ongoing questions are normal. we don't watch scary movies around her. “Aunt Julie is crying because she is sad that Uncle Tom has died. Yet, even 3-year-olds can experience fear and confusion when it comes to prolonged sickness and death. If she does want to attend the funeral or other service, carefully explain beforehand what the body will look like, what a coffin is, how other people may be acting, and as many other details about the event as possible. 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. Encourage kids to say what they're thinking and feeling in the days, weeks, … Something along the lines of, "We're so sad that Janie isn't here with us and we'll miss her very much, but it's comforting to know that she's with God now," will reassure your child without adding to her worries. A family dog or cat is often a child's first and best playmate, offering unconditional love and companionship. Close. To avoid confusion with preschoolers and very young children, it helps to explain that only very serious illness may cause death. Some children show their understanding of death through playing with their toys. Children aged between two and five years old have difficulty with the abstract concepts surrounding death. It may take time for a child to comprehend fully the ramifications of death and its emotional implications. A question that may seem dreadfully thoughtless to an adult may be a child’s request for reassurance. They may associate images with death, such as a skeleton. 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. Copyright © 1999-2019 Parenting Today, LLC - All Rights Reserved. My four-year-old daughter has suddenly become obsessed with death. The information on this website is solely for informational purposes. Being able to talk to someone other than a parent is sometimes very helpful for children. It's all right to cry in front of your child, and you can't expect yourself to answer every question perfectly the first time. Maybe Mummy won’t come back from the shops or from work. Louise88 Dd- ciara and ds- James. Walking outside, my … On the other hand, she may not show any reaction to the death at all, or her responses may be intermittent, mixed in with her usual cheerfulness and play. Religion is a real source of strength for many people in a time of grieving. They have their own personal ways of handling and expressing emotions. Using concrete and familiar examples may help. November 21, 2014 by Michelle. From nine through to adolescence, children to begin to understand fully that death is irreversible and that they too will die some day. We bottle it up and hope that by saying nothing will help it go away. There is an attic above us, but we have a clear view of the semi-transparent roof. They in particular need brief and simple explanations. Despite this, there are aspects of death that kids this age still can't understand. she tells me stories in detail about her imaginary(to her shes real)friend was drowned by some man in the woods. Discussion in 'Toddler & Pre-School' started by Louise88, Mar 12, 2016. She's also likely to come up with new questions as her awareness of death and her cognitive skills grow, grief counselors say. Most bereavement experts emphasize the importance of talking to kids about death from an early age in an honest and informative way and suggest that parents portray death as a natural part of the life cycle even before a death occurs. Neither Parenting Today, LLC nor Dr. Myers nor any of the editors, columnists or authors take responsibility for any possible consequences from any action taken which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. I have checked with the school, and none of … Some children may have already experienced the death of a pet or a family member. Discussing death with your kids can be a real concern and many tend to avoid it. Kids this age react to death in a variety of ways. Your child may still be somewhat oblivious to the widely publicized deaths of media figures or to news coverage of national disasters or wars. Dear Dr. Laura, When my oldest son was 19 months old his father was killed by a drunk driver. If we allow children to talk to us about death, we can give them needed information, prepare them for a crisis, and help them when they are upset. Children read about death in their fairy tales, watch it in cartoons and even role-play death in school plays. The dying themselves often find it very hard to express what they are feeling or what they would like. Death is one of the hardest subjects to broach with young children, especially when you're struggling to deal with your own sorrow. Reassure her that "people are angry and fighting far away," and that that makes you sad, but that you're there to take care of her and will do everything you can to keep her safe. Irreversibility (i.e., death is permanent) 2. For some, the worry trigger is a story. It is important to explain that most people live a long time, but some don’t. This is many children's first brush with death, and it can be a deeply tragic event for them. She may feel guilty over the death, or mourn the loss of the "big sister" role you'd been preparing her for. There was no way my three-year-old, already slightly worryingly in touch with his feminine side, was going out in that hat. He's now 3 years old going on 4 and knows his father's picture when he sees it and knows that daddy is in heaven with angels. He can't walk or run, or eat or sleep or see anymore, and he doesn't feel any pain.". Your preschooler may worry that going to bed at night means she'll die, too, or that if you leave for the office or the store, you won't come back. Talking about death with a 3 year old and other heartwarming tales. The child needs an answer. It's normal for your preschooler to be curious about death, even if she hasn't yet lost a loved one. But death is also an inescapable part of life, and children want to understand it and find ways to grieve that feel natural. Here are some tips: 1. No matter how children cope with death or express their feelings, they need sensitive and nonjudgmental responses from adults. 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. Then, I did not and I don’t think I will ever be good in explaining death to a three year old. A grieving child needs information that is clear and comprehensible for their development level. A child may immediately ask more questions, others may be silent, then wish to revisit the subject again later. They tend to not relate it to themselves and consider the idea that they can escape it. Sharing feelings between you and your child will benefit you both. Lately though he's started asking if he could go to heaven to see his daddy. There’s Daddy, Aunt Laura and Uncle John or Nan.”. Cure collusion (refusing to face the truth, or pretending everything’s alright) with relatives,doctors and c… Also expect that she may have tantrums more often, either as a way to get her own sadness out (though the tantrum may appear to be about something else) or as a reaction to the tension and sadness in your household. Avoid euphemisms. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. 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. State the reasons for the death as simply as possible: "Grandpa was very, very old and his body couldn't work anymore." 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. Help to diminish this trend and openly discuss death with your child when an appropriate time arises. The agony of losing a child of any age is unparalleled. How to explain death to your grade-schooler. They may wonder why everyone is so unhappy when they say that Tommy is happy. Children learn through repetition so they may need to go over this quite a few times. 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. Express your own emotions. Even when a parent or a sibling has died, preschoolers often don't see death as something that can happen to them. At various developmental levels, children have a different understanding of the finality of death. Young children can't handle too much information at once. Preschoolers are aware of death from early on. Most people today live until they're 75 or 80 years old, but some people live as long as 100 years or even more." 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. Dd found it, and we had a talk about it being dead. A child who knows that Uncle Tom has died may still ask why Aunt Julie is crying. Talking with 3 year old about death of his father. Between the ages of five and nine, most children are beginning to see that all living things eventually die and that death is final. Do I have a psychopath? A parent of children under 18 dies every 22 minutes in the UK; around 23,600 a year. She misses him very much. 3 year old saying dying and died... normal? Be honest and straightforward. 2  Despite this, they note that many parents resist discussing death until a loved one or pet dies. There have been no deaths in our family. Posted by 7 years ago. Children often feel guilty and angry when they lose a close family member. It is important to remember however that all children develop at different rates and that children experience life uniquely. There are also moments when we have trouble “understanding” what children are asking us. There is no age or point in time that makes it any easier. Among them may be whether to talk to their sick child and their siblings about the possibility of death. , my … 3 year old and baby growth comprehend fully the ramifications of death that kids this age to... Surprised at how aware children already are about death and its emotional implications his... Care towards others with ) op-ed from the opportunity to express their feelings and be comforted behaviour regarding,!, 'If Mom dies, who 's going to take care of her to grieve feel. April 28, 2008 14 answers old or very very old or very very old or very old! What ’ s questions our sorrows and move on in our lives on many different levels ideas! 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