How to explain about death to a 5 y.o.child???

Seuraa 
Liittynyt17.9.2015

HI! First of all, sorry, I am writing in English because it would take time to express properly in Finnish, but I would appreciate answers also in Finnish. I know my qusetion is about a sad issue, but I must find out some how how to answer my child, and less " sad" way to explain it.



I would like to know if there is a person/place wich could help me with this educational issue.



My 5 years old child, asks me about death. Sometimes cries and says he does not want to die or get older. I understand that the issue appeared recently, because we moved to Tammisaari, and the cemeteries are very big and " showy" .



I do not know how I can confort him, but I would like to explain about it, without overevaluating or creating more curiosity about the issue. Is there any person who I could get some advice? I do not want to use old methods about animals going to the stars whe dying, etc. We are not religious either (though I follow some church thoughts). I get pretty sad when he gets sad too.



Thank you any help is very important.

Kommentit (9)

Vierailija

Hello! My four-year-old daughter had just pretty hard time, while really reasoning the meaning of death sawing her own father crying after his grandma at cemetary. At the same time, her little baby-brother was going to the surgery, which did not make the situation better either, so she started to be pretty scared for not maybe seeing her own loveble brother never, if something went wrong



So, she started asking questions.. But actually it went over really fast. I compared us, people, our life and death to beautiful flowers and grass. They, too, get " babies" , enjoy their lives and then die and become soil to new beautiful flowers and their babies.. And same with grass.. etc. I told her, too, that when we die, we become good growing place to many beautiful flowers and grass. There will be nice little bunnies hopping around, (we have got bunnies), making their babies and enjoying of the grass and the flowers. And that was when she smiled, and said, that everything begomes " good growing place" to others, who, or which become after them.., and the same thing goes on and on.. and she really imagined the whole thing!



After that she only asked a few times, and I told her the same things, because she wanted. And when she wanted, I told more. I told her about things, toys, cars and so on, which eventually brake down so bad, that no one can repair them . They " die" too, because every one and everything has to. But those things had very nice time before dying, and we too with them, did not we?!



And I told her about religions (I do not have one), because she hears a pretty much " angel stuff" , because there are some very religious (lutherian) people around us. It was something like this: no one really knows what happens after our death. But everyone has their own way of seeing and making the best of it, making it easier to themselves, and that¨s sometimes called religion. I told her, that personally I think that what ever happens when you die - and after it - has to be beautiful. And that´s because, that¨s what mostly life is.



She wanted to hear those things few times, and then she got her own inner peace - and hopefully her own way, the best way for her, of seeing this hard thing,



I think, that actually the most important thing , while talking with her, was not really what I said.. it was maybe the WAY I said things. I took her seriously, but told these things in glad, convinsing tone and way, saying it is natural to ask, wonder and be scared. I think, that I said at least ten times, that eventually everything dies, it¨s natural, so why not to make best of it? : )



I hope there was some help : ).



- Tiina -

Vierailija

I have a daughter now 3.4 years old and she has been asking about death pretty much this summer. There are many childrens books in english about this topic, mabe you can search from the net. Then there is a person called " neuvolapsykologi" from who you can ask for advice; you will get her contact information from " neuvola" .

Personally I try to tell my dauhter that dying is part of life and there is something nice after it. We are muslims so ofcourse I comfort her with religious things. But if I was you, I would buy or borrow some non- religious d´childrens books and get to the subject throuhg them. And try not to be sad about it, or at least explain that we are all sad whan we must let go of something. And follow your instincts, you know youer child better than anyone.



I hope this will help a little.

Vierailija

We are not religious either and our son is too young yet to have question these. But I thought that what if telling many versions of what could happen would make him comfort of letting himself think his own way of the story.. Kids have rich imagination and they like to use it too, so giving older stories - which of course happen to be religious because of human history - could maybe make it more rich. I like stories about jälleensyntyminen and Kalevala, heaven is one version and usually kids like angels. At least my unreligious brother' s children liked to know their grandma became one and didn' t really go away if they just keep remembering her.

Maybe that' s something to believe in. We live as long someone remembers us... And cemeteries are for others to remember us for..

History has happened and telling facts about it is necessary even for us who don' t believe in certain religious details. But people before us have been very serious about it.



nemma

Vierailija

5-years old child doesn´t think about death as adults do. It´s always good to remember with a young child to listen carefully WHAT she/he is asking. You shouldn´t explain more that she/he is ready to understand. Othervise you risk to make him/her more upset and more afraid.



Even that´s very normal and common that children aged 5-6 years asks about death and seem to be worried about it, so about 10 years later the 12-14 year old teenagers take this issue again... and thats when they really understand that death is a separation forever.



This young ones propably understands, that death is something adults don´t like and adult´s are afraid off. Why, thats harder to understand. Like my daughter once said... " And then she dies, and we´ll be soooo sad... but then we can go and by a new granmom..." . So it´s still very abstrakt. Forewer is too long time to understand.



So listen what the child is afraid off... I don´t belive it´s the death. It´s the thing she/he don´t understand. Is it loosing you? Or is it that she will die? Because, if you don´t know what die means of course you are afraid.



And then answer just the question. " I think that I´m not dieing for a long long time, and you don´t have to be worried about that, because there will always be somebody to take care off you and love you. So it´s not a thig to small children to worry" And if the question is about dieing himself, you simply can tell that " small children don´t die very easily, so it´s nothing to worry. So it´s better to calm the child than start telling things which are hard to understand for an adult too..." It doens´t quite help them.



You also can show how the nature dies. The flowers dissappers and trees fell they leaves... or if you find a ded bird or some other ded animal you can show that the animal looks very calm...



Often the children think about things a lot simplier than we adults. And too much explanation, can make them even more worried.



Then there are children that have som disease or something, and they might think about death more seriously than other children in their age..

But as we all know. Death frightens almost everybody and you just have to accept it and not think about it too much. That´s why you can with clear conscience protect your child and calm down him/her. They have plenty off time to meet the " real world" later.



I know how it is, because my son got ill in that age, and death was a daily thing to discuss for almost two years... every evening.... And still I don´t think he understood this issue that time but much later. He stopped to be afraid, when my granmother died, and he saw that death wasn´t at last so bad that he had imagined....







Vierailija

Here is a list I found about some books that could be useful:

http://www3.baylor.edu/~Charles_Kemp/terminal_illness/childrens_books.htm



I would imagine that it' s possible to order those (amazon.com for example) or maybe you can even find some of them in larger bookstores in Finland



We have tried to explain to our kids that everyone will die but it' s not likely to happen before you are very very old (not likely because I don' t want to lie either) and that it' s definitely not something that you have to worry about! Your child will have so much time left, he will go to school, get own children, start to work etc etc. If it makes him to feel more comfortable, you can tell that nowadays doctors are so good and skilled and that there is medicine for almost everything, so one probably won' t die even if one would get very sick or if some accident woul' d happen.



Hope you' ll find some good book as well you car read together and that your son can feel little better =)

Vierailija

I think you got some good answers to your question. I just want to add here one thing. Talking and asking about death is very typical to a 5 year old child. They start to understand that their life will end one day or that their loved ones might die. So it is very normal and common to wonder these things.



In my family, we are not very religious people. I have told my children that there can be life after death, but I am not sure. Dying is a part of being a human and we just have to accept it. I have also explained to them that usually when people die, they are old and very tired of living their life, so they are not afraid, but death is a relief to them at that point.



I hope you' ll find a way to ease your child' s sorrow (and your' s too of course).



Jamssa

Vierailija

There must be man books for children about this topic, you can probably get them from library..And if You want them in English, check the internet-stores.



We also comfort our children by talking about Heaven, where we all will meet, but in Your case I understand that this is not an option.

I have also spoken about life, that everybody borns, lives, growes and eventually dies, and it is a natural thing. In our society dead is many times unspoken thing and that may scare children even more..?



Hope that I could help a bit.

Vierailija

This is a hot topic in every family with 5-6 year-olds, so if it' s any consolation, you' re not alone! As you can see from the number of answers you already have reveived. ;-)



And good answers they have been, too! As someone else said, it is very typical of a, say, 5-year-old to start thinking about death, existence in general and particularly the vulnerability of themselves and their loved ones. Thus far they' ve been almost invicible and untouchable (as have their parents) and all of a sudden they realise that things aren' t quite as simple as that! One can only imagine how scary it may feel...



Personally I am what you could call an agnostic - or a free-thinker - and like someone else said, I am also even myself a little uncertain as to what the " real truth" is... Therefore it can be a bit of a dilemma to explain things to a young child. The thought of " then you die and get buried and that' s it, and then you are eaten away by maggots and that is how you rejoin the circle of life" can be very distressing to an adult, let alone a young child!



One option, depending on your own beliefs and ideas and the child' s age, of course, is what someone already suggested: that you are honest and say that we don' t really know what happens when you die but a lot of pepole think your soul lives on and Mommy believes that, too (?). Some people think that you may even be born again as another creature - like a butterfly, wouldn' t that be nice? Etc. It really all depends so much on the child in question and, moreover, on what your personal and your family' s beliefs are.



Like so many people have said, it really is typical of your child' s age to be thinking about these things, but I was all the same wondering if something out of the ordinary has happened to initiate these thoughts at this moment in time? Because he/she seems quite distressed and it in turn distresses you, too, and it can become a bit of a " viscious circle" . Someone I think had a very good point in saying that cemeteries and tombstones etc. are meant to be beautiful things because they are what we remember those loved ones by and if it is the cemetery your child is scared of it might help to talk about the aspect of rememberance and it is a good and beautiful thing to remember someone who' s no longer with us - that a cemetery is nothing to be frightended of...



Anyway, I must again agree with one of the previous answers: it can be a very " dangerous" thing, however, to say, for example, that only very old people die. As, heaven forbid, accidents happen and even young people can get sick. Of course you should not be too graphic, though, in explaining the different aspects of death either! Perhaps just that most often it' s very old people who die and they are often already quite tired and if it' s someone who' s younger they are usually very sick and therefore tired, too.



Anyway, best of luck with explaining things to your little one! Hopefully you will be able to alleviate that anxiety a little bit at least...

Vierailija

Has started questioning us after taking part in 2 funerals lately. Both were old people and he kind of understood that old people do die. But when is old? Is mom old? Dad is older ....??



He did not expect so many answers but needed to know that someone would take care of him and his sister if ever we would leave this world while they are children. We told him that his grandparents, aunts and oncles as well as older cousins would be there for them.



As we are also living abroad, next problem: but I want to stay here, I do not want to move to Finland! Few days late a friend of mine from here was visiting us and the boy made me ask her if the kids can move to hers if needed in case of death. She promised and no more questions after that.

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