February 22, 2015

How Do You Explain Death to a Child

Lately, Juancho has been so concerned about me. He likes me to relax and he'll just do whatever it is I need to do around the house. At night he'd hug me so tight and will be so quiet. I sometimes hear him sob.

Me: O, why are you suddenly so quiet? 
Juan: I'm afraid Mommy that you will die early like Mama Judith.

Mama Judith's my mother who passed away at an early age of 43 last 1993. I'm turning 42 this July, so Juan's quite agitated by the coming months.

This  fear of death that is common among children aged four to eight is called Thanatophobia.
Below are the five steps I did that helped alleviate  my son's anxiety about death. You can try it but if it does not help, consult your doctor.

1.  Have an open communication or talk with the child about death. Permitting children to talk to us about death can give them needed information, prepare them for a crisis, and help them when they are upset.
2.   Listen attentively. Children are  encouraged to talk when you  show genuine  interest. Give the child your undivided attention. Turn off celphone, hang the telephone, turn off the television.
3.  Respect the child's views. Do not just shun the child's anxiety about death. Remember, what we say about death to our children, or when we say it, will depend on their ages and experiences. It will also depend on our own experiences, beliefs, feelings, and the situations we find ourselves in, for each situation we face is somewhat different.
4.  Answer the child's questions honestly. Children are aware of death so never sugar coat an answer just so to protect the kid from worry and fear.  Death is a part of life, and children, at some level, must be able to grasp this reality.

5. Examine your own feelings and beliefs about death so that you can talk to the child  as naturally and as honest as possible when the opportunities arise.

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