How to speak with a child about death?
The death of a loved one is one of the most difficult topics that parents face when talking to children. The child’s interest in this topic may arise as a result of the death of a loved one or spontaneously at a certain age, when he begins to learn the world, be interested in the surrounding processes, try to find explanations for various phenomena and find out what awaits him in the distant future. Forming a child’s own opinion about death allows him to feel protected and creates a safe space around him.
What you need to pay attention to when talking?
Before speaking to parents with children on this topic, it is necessary to remember that any incorrect phrase or confusing explanation can lead to a dead end and even form a feeling of fear. Therefore, you need to listen to the advice of psychologists who will help you find the right words and context so that the new information brings answers to your questions, rather than confusing even more.
As soon as the need arises for covering the topic of death, it is necessary to decide not only how to tell the kid about it, but who will do it. Consider that such serious conversations should be carried out by people whom the baby trusts.
If the need for a conversation about death arose not because of curiosity but as a result of the death of a relative or a close person, then at that moment the adult person should keep himself in hand, do not behave too emotionally, speak calmly and in no case cry out.
In case tears come to my eyes, they should not be restrained. In this way, you will demonstrate to your daughter or son through a personal example that the manifestation of emotions during the tribulation period is a natural phenomenon and should not be ashamed. However, try not to fall into a tantrum and end the story in sobs, as the baby may be afraid of such an excessive reaction.
Some adults are afraid to start such conversations with children, as they think that they can injure their psyche and cause pain. In addition, parents are not ready to see the tears and violent reactions of children, so they prefer to keep silent about the death of a loved one or present the news in a veiled form, thereby introducing the son or daughter into error.
In no case should you be afraid that the child will start blaming you or shouting and crying when you hear the truth. On the contrary, children are very grateful to those adults who behave honestly with them and provide support in difficult times. Moreover, most often the first reaction to what has been said will not be hysterical and moaning, but surprise and attempts to imagine what happens when a person dies.
Choose the right moment
Talk about the death of a relative or a loved one should not be postponed for a long time. But if you need a pause to recover, calm down, collect your thoughts and gain resources in order to support the baby, you can wait a bit with the news. However, try not to delay and talk as soon as possible after the incident. Because the longer children will remain in ignorance, the worse their psychological adaptation will be after.
Try to choose such a time for conversation, so that the baby is not in a hurry, busy, upset and overworked. It is advisable to report death in the morning or afternoon, when the situation in the house is more or less calm, there are no extra people, no one will interfere and interrupt at the wrong time.
If your family has embraces and gentle touches, then the baby can put himself on his knees, and a teenager - to put on his shoulders. Remember that physical contact should not cause discomfort in children. If at the moment the child does not want this kind of support, do not force it, just keep eye contact and say that you are around.
How not to do?
When confronted with the talk of death for the first time, many parents are lost, do not know how to behave, and therefore make mistakes. Among the most common are the following.
- Use a lot of extra words. When talking, try not to talk unnecessary information that will only confuse you and the child, talk only in essence, for example, “grandfather was very sick and therefore he died.”
- They say veiled phrases. In no case should one resort to metaphors and euphemisms. Phrases like "gone forever," "fell asleep forever," "went to the next world" can confuse the child and scare. The kid will become afraid to fall asleep and not wake up or go somewhere and not return.
- Drink alcohol for courage. If you want to relieve tension before the conversation and calm down, then it is better to drink a sedative instead of strong drinks.
- Thicken paint.Try not to tell the child that the deceased was taken away for sins or as a punishment for some actions. If a loved one died as a result of an accident or was very sick, then you should not devote the baby to all the details.
- Radically change the usual routine. Do not make any exceptions in connection with the death for the child that were previously prohibited in your family. Otherwise, the child will not be entirely correct association with death.
Remember that a child has the right to grieve, so do not forbid him to show his emotions and give him maximum support at this difficult time for him.
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