Explaining the concept of death to a child can get to be rather difficult. The finality of death and the host of negative emotions can get too overwhelming for the kid and since as parents we like to shield them from negativity, death is often a taboo subject with young children. In some cases death could introduce itself to the child with the passing away of someone close, while in others it could be a more distant episode. In any case, sooner or later your child will hear about death and have questions regarding it.
Below are some points that will help you explain death to your kids:
- Death related literature – Thankfully there are a lot of kiddies’ books that can help children understand death. Some thing as simple as Bambi can help children to understand how deaths can happen and how little Bambi deals with it and goes on to find friends. It will help to bring in these books as props in order to familiarize the child with death and maybe even introduce the topic to her. Do understand that these books must be age appropriate and the emotion described in the book must be something that the child can handle well. The focus should be more on the recovery process after death as opposed to death itself.
- Encourage questions – Once the kid is introduced to the concept of death, it is natural for her to ask questions about it. Do not suppress these curious questions. Ask the child what she wants to know and if there are any questions that she has about death. Most kids will want to know what happens after one dies and so on and so forth. Depending on the age of the child you can pick the after death theory that you wish to go with. So you can say the soul goes to heaven or is reborn or even that we are just energy and mix back into the universe again. Whatever you do, never undermine the finality of death and talk of people coming back after death should not be bothered with at all, unless the kid wants to know.
- Don’t confuse – Sometimes parents will tell the child some blatant lies about death. Simply saying that death is like a long sleep will confuse the child. Avoid telling the child such lies. Of course this does not mean that you cannot sugar coat the cold reality of death but changing the concept is never a good idea. Lying will only confuse the kid and may give the child a wrong understanding of death.