Teaching children about death provides the parent an exceptional opportunity to get the true information out to the child regarding the situation itself, and emotions. The truth is that many children, both young and teenage years, often perceive death much differently than adults expect. Some children actually build up anger, which then manifests itself in temper tantrums or violence. However, by teaching children about death, feeding them valuable information, they can learn to handle their emotions in a much healthier way.
For children, the thought of losing a parent is usually the most difficult to hear or understand. Children want and expect parents to live forever, always being there as a number one support system. We all know that life will end and for some, much too soon. Preparing and teaching children about death at the right age and time will help them deal with these fears, accepting the inevitable. Some of the areas that need to be covered include the reality of death, having respect for death, equality of life and therefore, death, opening up emotionally, communicating fear, getting support, celebrating the person’s life, not death, and remembering that person in a positive, loving way.
When teaching children about death, it is essential they understand it is a reality, something that everyone will one day face. With this, the child will not feel as though he or she was singled out. It is also crucial to help the child understand that even when a loved one is gone, it is okay and even healthy to remember them. This could include placing flowers on the grave, getting a favorite picture displayed in the home, or some other way. Often, allowing the child to talk about the person who died, sharing memories and stories is a great means of communication and venting.
Then, teaching children about death should always include celebration of life. Help the child focus on the beautiful things he or she learned from or shared with the person. You can teach your child to see the lessons that individual provided, special things that are unique to the person.
Teaching children about death does not have to be graphic, morbid, or even sad, but realistic and above all, being willing to answer the child’s questions in a way that he or she would understand but honestly. Remember, kids are smart and they know when they are being given a line or not told all the facts. Show respect to the child about this important subject and he or she will likely grasp what you say easier.
For more free resources, visit [http://www.thecbtcoach.com] Julia Sorensen is the author of “Overcoming Loss Stories and Activities to Help Children Transform Grief and Loss” Published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers:
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