How to explain the concept of death to children?

At some point when we are parents we sooner or later have to face the need to explain the concept of death to our children. We are clearly worried about scaring the child; so we don’t even try to spare them the pain.

But isn’t it better to teach them to be ready when the time comes? As we know how difficult it can be to address this issue, here we will share a series of tips that can make the situation easier for you.

explain concept of death to children
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At what age is it necessary to talk or explain the concept of death to children?

It is recommended to begin talking to children 18 months to 5 years of age about the concept of death. During this stage, children have a very concrete thought, therefore they tend to take things in a literal sense. For this reason, the explanations that we give them must be in direct language, in this way we will avoid confusion that worries them and ends up scaring them even more.

Preschool children tend to watch cartoons where the characters die and survive over and over again, this can make them believe that in real life it could happen the same, for this reason, we must make it clear that when we die the body stops working, never we don’t eat, we breathe, we don’t wake up anymore.

Read: Importance of talking with your children

Why is it important to talk to children about death?

Talking with them about this topic allows them to prepare for when the time comes. Suddenly facing a situation of death with a close family member outside the mother or father, it can create different fears in children, such as the fact that the same thing could happen to their parents and be left helpless.

For this reason, it is necessary to mention that death can happen for different reasons, such as death after an illness, where it is necessary to explain that there are common illnesses such as the flu, pain in the belly, or an ear infection, for which doctors always have a cure that solves them and others that are usually very serious where some can be solved and others cannot.

Apart from old age, which is not a disease as such, but occurs when the body is already very tired after living for so many years and therefore cannot continue working. Clearly explaining what was mentioned above will allow the child not to be scared when he or a family member has an illness.

There are also unexpected deaths, where it is very difficult to assimilate the news even for adults. But if we have already discussed this concept with them before, there may be a little calmer in situation.

How can children cope with the concept of death at an early age?

If the child is facing the death of a pet or someone known but not close to his family circle. It might be easier for him and the adult to bring it up; since both would be more serene and would have a better vision of death.

Clearly, this will not make the child’s pain easier when facing the death of a family member or significant other, but it will help him or her to be more prepared to face such a situation.

The child who has been able to talk and clear up all their doubts with their parents will be able to better express their feelings and fear when it comes to someone close to them.

Practical tips for talking about or explaining the concept of death to children

Pick a good time

Find a moment when they are alone and can talk. It must be a cozy place; It can be in your room or in his, you can sit next to him or with him, but stay comfortable in case you want to hug him at some point.

Offer clear explanations

We must avoid saying phrases that can confuse him such as “he is asleep”, “he went to the afterlife”. It is very important to be clear in what we want to express, when someone dies it means that we will never see him again, or you can give him some calm by saying that “he will always be in our hearts through the memories”.

Related: How to overcome the death of a child

Don’t be afraid to use certain terms

We should not be afraid to say things as they are, we should only communicate that someone “died” in a very understandable way, explain how it happened, and be attentive to any questions they may have.

If you don’t feel able to answer uncomfortable questions to the children at the moment, you can tell them that you will take some time to think since it is very important and you want to answer well.

Use simple and pleasant language

The type of language must be appropriate for the child’s age and understanding, with a very sweet, calm tone of voice, with closeness and respect towards him.

Respect children’s feelings

We must allow him to express what he feels, it is normal if he feels sad and asks many questions, for which we must be prepared to give advice so that they can control and combat said sadness, of course as long as we do not overload him with information that he will not yet be able to assimilate.