It is a topic we hardly discuss, even between adults. But death is inevitable. For most parents and guardians, the idea of discussing this complex subject with young kids can seem daunting.
In most cases, it’s something that parents try to avoid altogether until they believe their child(s) is mature enough to understand the concept of death.
However, there is no “right” time to start teaching your kids about death, and what it means to die. Especially in cases where a family member, pet, or family friend passes, it is very important for the parents in the child’s life to try and do the best they can to assist their kid(s) understand what it means to pass away.
Since it is something that we all must face, and teaching your kids about the concept of death is a crucial part of growing up. Whether it is handling the death of a beloved pet or a loved one, children will finally find themselves wondering about death and even looking for answers.
To ensure they have a full understanding of this crucial concept when that time arrives, it is good to explain death from your own perspective to the kids. In this post, we will present top 5 tips for explaining death to your children.
1. Consider the Age
When discussing the concept of death with children, it is essential to consider the age of the child. For instance, children less than six years old may require a different approach than a child closer to nine or ten.
Young kids usually have a very literal view of the world; therefore it is important to explain things in the most basic approach possible.
2. Be Patient
Kids may ask many questions again and again that can lead to anger and frustration, particularly if they keep asking about this sensitive subject.
If this happens, do not get angry; calmly explain to your child that the person in question has died, and cannot come back. It’s good to answer these repetitive questions and be understanding and compassionate.
3. Avoid Using Terms Like ‘Rest’ and ‘Sleep’
It might be easy to provide children a euphemism for death, such as ‘rest’ or ‘sleep’ but these terms can always be harmful and confusing. A kid might believe that, since their relative went to sleep and didn’t wake up, they’ll die when they go to bed.
This can make your child fearful of going to sleep. Try to speak in the most honest and direct terms possible without scaring your kid.
4. Encourage them to Ask Questions
When discussing the concept of death with your child, try to encourage them to ask questions. A question like ‘What do you think this means?’ can be a perfect way to open children up to the particular process and to assist them to understand death.
You can start this process by getting kids to explore the death of trees and flowers, to help offer them a foundation to build upon.
5. Don’t Hide Your Emotions
Although it is good to be calm when speaking with your children, you should not try to hide your emotions when informing them about someone who passed away and was close to your family. It can assist them to understand the value of life and death if you show your emotions. Also, it may bring you closer with your children if they can grieve alongside you.
Death affects everyone in different ways, but it’s important to pay close attention to children during this period since it’s always a formative experience. While talking to children about death is not an easy task, keeping these core tips in mind you will be ready to have the difficult and complex discussion with your kid when the time comes.