The passing of loved ones is never an easy conversation to have with anyone, however there are certain ways to talk to your kids about death. Whether it’s a pet who has passed away, a family member, friend, or classmate, death is a very sensitive subject that many children don’t quite understand yet. To help them realize the situation in a less confusing manner, use one of these ways to talk to your kids about death that I have mentioned here…
One of the best ways to talk to your kids about death is to give them a straightforward answer. Saying things like, “Buster went to sleep and won’t be waking up,” might scare your child and make them afraid of going to sleep. However, death shouldn’t sound this frightening to your little ones. Tell them that Buster’s doctors couldn’t make him feel better, and even though you wish they could still play with him, their dog won’t be coming back. The more straightforward your discussion about death is, the less confused they will be.
A helpful way to talk to kids about death is to compare it to something they understand. If your children like to help you plant new flowers in the garden after the old ones have died, explain to them that people get old like the flowers do and stop growing after a while. Sometimes kids just need a visual aid to help them see what they don’t understand.
When you talk to your kids about death, find out how much they know and understand. Have they learned about it in school, have they heard their friends talking about it? Clear up any misconceptions they may have heard and make them feel comfortable about asking questions.
Kids don’t always understand what happens when a loved one is buried; they want to know if the person will be able to breathe in the coffin or how they will get out when they wake up. A helpful way to explain it is to tell them how people move on from this life; their bodies stop working and their souls are no longer here with us.
Your child needs to know that it’s okay to feel whatever they are feeling after the death of a loved one. Whether they are confused, sad, or angry, your child needs to understand that these feelings are natural. Let them know that they can scream and get angry if they are mad that their friend has passed away. However, they should also understand that the anger shouldn’t go too far (like hurting themselves, someone else, or by breaking things), but if they really need to let it out, ask them to share their feelings with you or write them down in a journal.
Sometimes we tend to shy away from our children when we’re sad or angry. However, in this situation hiding your feelings might confuse your child about how they should be feeling. If you are sad and feel the need to cry, then don’t be afraid to show your children that when someone dies, it makes you emotional because you miss them.
If you notice after a death in the family that your child’s behavior is changing for the worst, e.g. they are constantly moody, are terrified to be alone, or have trouble sleeping, then reach out and ask them how they are feeling. However, according to Parents.com, “...if a child is totally immobilized over an extended period of time, it would be wise to get professional help.” Sometimes seeking help is the best way to help your child if you feel like you’ve run out of options. Go to counseling together, in the beginning, if your child doesn’t feel comfortable going on their own. Then after a few sessions, and if they are ready, allow the psychologist to speak with your child alone.
Have you had to figure out ways to talk to your kids about death recently? What are some things you talked to your children about when a loved one passed away?
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