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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 October 20, 2020

        How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

        How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

        You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

        We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

        The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

        Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

        1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

        Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

        For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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        • (1) Research
        • (2) Deciding the topic
        • (3) Creating the outline
        • (4) Drafting the content
        • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
        • (6) Revision
        • (7) etc.

        Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

        2. Change Your Environment

        Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

        One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

        3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

        Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

        Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

        My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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        Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

        4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

        If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

        Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

        I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

        5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

        I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

        Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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        As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

        6. Get a Buddy

        Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

        I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

        7. Tell Others About Your Goals

        This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

        For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

        8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

        What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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        9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

        If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

        Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

        10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

        Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

        Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

        11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

        At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

        Reality check:

        I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future. Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

        Bonus: Think Like a Rhino

        More Tips for Procrastinators to Start Taking Action

        Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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