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8 Tips on How to Talk to Your Kids About Death

8 Tips on How to Talk to Your Kids About Death

Death is a part of life. When it occurs due to natural causes it can be a bit easier to handle. Yet, when unexpected, the process of explaining death to a child becomes that much more difficult. While it may be easier to tell a child that the special someone is “sleeping,” the child grows up with a sense of betrayal when the person never returns. Certainly it is a most difficult task, but the best policy is to be straightforward and gentle.

1. Base Your Discussion On The Child And The Situation

Provide only enough information that answers the child’s questions about the death. Assure the child that the person is no longer in any pain, but sadly not returning. Assure the child that they are well-loved and will be taken care of. Discuss happier memories of the person and reassure the child that even though the person is gone they will never be forgotten.

2. Allow The Child To Grieve

Grieving is a natural process, and it is unnatural and cruel not to make allowances for grief. Provide appropriate outlets for grief, such as allowing them to go to the funeral, sharing memories of the deceased with others, and talking about the loved one. Remember there are no strict time lines for grieving. Talk with the child as he or she needs to be listened to.

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3. Be Honest But Avoid Potentially Traumatizing Information

Answer a child’s questions honestly. Exclude every last detail of the death; these are details the child simply has no need of knowing. For example, if it was a sudden accident, there is simply no need to traumatize the child further with details about the accident. Always reassure the child that they are safe and protected and that while accidents do happen, the child does not need to worry.

4. Watch Out For Unusual Behavior After The Discussion

The child may exhibit unusual behavior after a death occurs. The child may think they can reunite with the loved one after a death and may consider or attempt suicide; seek professional help immediately in that case. The child may withdraw socially and no longer wish to play as he or she once did. Encourage play by engaging the child in activities he or she enjoys.

5. Be A Good Listener

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    Ask the child open-ended questions to encourage discussion and then simply listen. Allowing the child to air his or her grief is a good way on the path to grief recovery. The child may get “stuck” in a particular discussion, in which case it is good simply to continue listening until the child is fully prepared to move forward.

    6. Avoid Lying About The Death

    While it may seem easier to simply tell the child that the person has simply “gone away” as if on a vacation, the result is that the child will learn that you cannot be trusted in being truthful. Yes, in a sense, the person has “gone away,” but be sure to emphasize that the person cannot come back or that there are no possibilities of visitation.

    7. Create A Ritual Of The Death

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      While it may see counterintuitive, a death ritual helps a child come to terms with the death. In the West, this normally includes families reuniting, a wake, and then the funeral. Prepare the child by letting them now that people are coming and some may be new faces. Tell them what happens in a wake and what to expect during the funeral.

      8. Prepare To Answer Questions

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        Again, the key here is to be honest. Answer to the best of your knowledge; it is absolutely fine to tell the child that there is something you don’t know. Be aware of age appropriate answers and avoid providing too much detail.

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        Featured photo credit: Flowers rest on headstone in cemetery via shutterstock.com

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        Last Updated on January 3, 2020

        The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

        The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

        Are you waiting for life events to turn out the way you want so that you can feel more positive about your life? Do you find yourself having pre-conditions to your sense of well-being, thinking that certain things must happen for you to be happier? Do you think there is no way that your life stresses can make you anything other than “stressed out” and that other people just don’t understand?  If your answer is “yes” to any of these questions, you might find yourself lingering in the land of negativity for too long!

        The following are some tips to keep positive no matter what comes your way. This post will help you stop looking for what psychologists call “positivity” in all the wrong places!  Here are the ten essential habits of positive people.

        1. Positive people don’t confuse quitting with letting go.

        Instead of hanging on to ideas, beliefs, and even people that are no longer healthy for them, they trust their judgement to let go of negative forces in their lives.  Especially in terms of relationships, they subscribe to The Relationship Prayer which goes:

         I will grant myself the ability to trust the healthy people in my life … 

        To set limits with, or let go of, the negative ones … 

        And to have the wisdom to know the DIFFERENCE!

         2.  Positive people don’t just have a good day – they make a good day.

        Waiting, hoping and wishing seldom have a place in the vocabulary of positive individuals. Rather, they use strong words that are pro-active and not reactive. Passivity leads to a lack of involvement, while positive people get very involved in constructing their lives. They work to make changes to feel better in tough times rather than wish their feelings away.

        3. For the positive person, the past stays in the past.

        Good and bad memories alike stay where they belong – in the past where they happened. They don’t spend much time pining for the good ol’ days because they are too busy making new memories now. The negative pulls from the past are used not for self-flagellation or unproductive regret, but rather productive regret where they use lessons learned as stepping stones towards a better future.

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        4. Show me a positive person and I can show you a grateful person.

        The most positive people are the most grateful people.  They do not focus on the potholes of their lives.  They focus on the pot of gold that awaits them every day, with new smells, sights, feelings and experiences.  They see life as a treasure chest full of wonder.

        5. Rather than being stuck in their limitations, positive people are energized by their possibilities.

        Optimistic people focus on what they can do, not what they can’t do.  They are not fooled to think that there is a perfect solution to every problem, and are confident that there are many solutions and possibilities.  They are not afraid to attempt new solutions to old problems, rather than spin their wheels expecting things to be different this time.  They refuse to be like Charlie Brown expecting that this time Lucy will not pull the football from him!

        6. Positive people do not let their fears interfere with their lives!

        Positive people have observed that those who are defined and pulled back by their fears never really truly live a full life. While proceeding with appropriate caution, they do not let fear keep them from trying new things. They realize that even failures are necessary steps for a successful life. They have confidence that they can get back up when they are knocked down by life events or their own mistakes, due to a strong belief in their personal resilience.

        7. Positive people smile a lot!

        When you feel positive on the inside it is like you are smiling from within, and these smiles are contagious. Furthermore, the more others are with positive people, the more they tend to smile too! They see the lightness in life, and have a sense of humor even when it is about themselves. Positive people have a high degree of self-respect, but refuse to take themselves too seriously!

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        8. People who are positive are great communicators.

        They realize that assertive, confident communication is the only way to connect with others in everyday life.  They avoid judgmental, angry interchanges, and do not let someone else’s blow up give them a reason to react in kind. Rather, they express themselves with tact and finesse.  They also refuse to be non-assertive and let people push them around. They refuse to own problems that belong to someone else.

        9. Positive people realize that if you live long enough, there are times for great pain and sadness.

        One of the most common misperceptions about positive people is that to be positive, you must always be happy. This can not be further from the truth. Anyone who has any depth at all is certainly not happy all the time.  Being sad, angry, disappointed are all essential emotions in life. How else would you ever develop empathy for others if you lived a life of denial and shallow emotions? Positive people do not run from the gamut of emotions, and accept that part of the healing process is to allow themselves to experience all types of feelings, not only the happy ones. A positive person always holds the hope that there is light at the end of the darkness.  

        10. Positive person are empowered people – they refuse to blame others and are not victims in life.

        Positive people seek the help and support of others who are supportive and safe.They limit interactions with those who are toxic in any manner, even if it comes to legal action and physical estrangement such as in the case of abuse. They have identified their own basic human rights, and they respect themselves too much to play the part of a victim. There is no place for holding grudges with a positive mindset. Forgiveness helps positive people become better, not bitter.

        How about you?  How many habits of positive people do you personally find in yourself?  If you lack even a few of these 10 essential habits, you might find that the expected treasure at the end of the rainbow was not all that it was cracked up to be. How could it — if you keep on bringing a negative attitude around?

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        I wish you well in keeping positive, because as we all know, there is certainly nothing positive about being negative!

        Featured photo credit: Janaína Castelo Branco via flickr.com

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