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How to Teach Young Children About Life and Death Appropriately

The cycle of life and death is one that’s difficult for even adults to understand. When young children first become aware of it, they’re likely to have numerous questions. Whether you’re a parent, teacher, or another influential adult, you’ll want to tell them about it in a tactful way. These are ways you can educate them on life and death in a tasteful way.

Be Transparent with Them

Fear of traumatizing children could tempt you to sugarcoat or deny death. If your child is mature enough to ask about death, then they’re mature enough to get the truth about it. They might ask about it at awkward time, such as a family gathering. Promise them you’ll resume the discussion when you have more privacy.

Visit a Funeral Home

Going to a funeral home can help your young children become more comfortable with death. They’ll be able to see how people are remembered and cared for after death. This can also teach them about how common death is and how people learn to process it. Sadness can be there, but the tears they see aren’t necessarily just tears of mourning.

Use Examples

The loss of a pet or witnessing an animal’s death can introduce the concept of death to a young mind. Use this as a time to talk about how death is as natural as birth, and that while the afterlife is a mystery, it doesn’t mean you should give up hope. If they had a close bond with a pet or relative who died, it can be very difficult for them to process what happened. Reassure them that emotional responses to death are both healthy and natural.

Don’t Speak Fearfully

Your children’s questions about death don’t necessarily have to come from fear. If you speak of death in negative terms, it’s likely to create a feeling of anxiety in them. Answer their questions as matter-of-factly as possible. If they seem to be frightened by any of this, let them express their worries without trying to correct them.

Focus on the Positive

Death can be a sad experience, but also a joyous one. It can give life meaning, knowing that it one day ends. There are also different perspectives on what happens after we die. Tell your children that death doesn’t need to be seen as an end, as it can also be the beginning of something new and wonderful.

In a child’s mind, adults have all the answers. Do your best to help them grasp life and death concepts, but don’t feel like you have to be an encyclopedia. As you discuss these heavy topics, you make them less frightening for both of yo.u.

Tim Esterdahl

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