Talking to young children about death can be confusing and hard. In our culture we’ve learned to avoid difficult topics like the plague, mask them in taboo and metaphor and wrap them up with a bow, nice and pretty.
All of us hope we will not even have to broach this topic with our kids for a long time. And it is a blessing if circumstance allows that. Nonetheless: it’s really important to give kids clarity and simplicity when it comes to heightened, painful topics.
Talking about death as what it is: a part of life, finite, uncompromising is really important. It’s also important not to scare children with the idea that “good people go to heaven” (what, like, right now?!) or that Heaven is a better place (Let’s go then!).
Dr. Laura Markham and I enact a conversation that I actually had with my 3 year old just last week – ours was also about a dead squirrel that we saw. It can be cathartic for both parent and child to face these major topics head on and discuss them in a direct way.
Have you explained death to your child? What approach made sense for you?
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