3 Tips for Explaining Death to a Child
Explaining the concept of death to a child is very challenging. Most parents want to avoid it as long as possible because they don’t want to introduce such a grim and sad fact of life. Sometimes there’s no way around it and parents just have to gather courage and have that discussion. Here are some tips and tricks that can help you with the process and ensure your child has a good understanding of the concept:
1. Discuss the death when it’s not personal
Children do experience grief, anxiety, and loss when someone close to them dies, regardless of how young they are. Trying to explain such a situation during this period of grief can add to their stress, which is why it’s a good idea to discuss it when there’s little to no personal attachment. For example, parents can discuss death when an animal dies, or if a tree in their backyard dies. Parents can also discuss death of well-known person or celebrity the child might be familiar with but not personally attached to.
2. Don’t use vague terms
It’s a good idea to present all facts in a clear and understandable manner so the child isn’t confused. For example, parents can explain that the child won’t be able to speak with or see the deceased person. They can say the person has stopped eating, walking, playing, and breathing and won’t come back. While this might sound harsh, it gives the children clear facts to latch onto and understand.
3. Make it a discussion and answer questions as honestly as you can
Don’t mention death in passing, explain the concept briefly, and shut the topic down there. Take some time away from work and chores and have a discussion with the child, let them ask questions about death and answer honestly and clearly.
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