What can one expect at this age?Talking about death with a small child is one of the hardest topics to tackle, especially if you're struggling to cope with your own pain. However, it is an inevitable part of our lives and children want to understand it and find their own way to mourn.
Most children know something about death early on. They hear about him in fairy tales, see him on television as disasters and calamities, and come across dead insects and birds on the way or on the street. Some children may also have experience with the death of a pet or even a family member.
Despite all this, there are aspects of death for which a nursery-age child is simply too small to understand. They can not understand that death is final, inevitable and affects everyone. Nor can they grasp that being dead means that the body no longer works. They may believe that the deceased still eats, sleeps, and does ordinary things - besides doing these things in the sky or down in the earth.
No matter how many times you explain it, little children can not really understand what death really means from their spiritual development. Even if a parent or brother or sister dies, little children do not see death as something that can happen to them. Children of this age respond to death in various ways. Do not be surprised if your child starts to cling, falls back into baby talk or suddenly refuses to go to a familiar place such as the playground. This could be because his daily routine has been interrupted for some time or trying to understand why the adults around him are so sad. Your child may also show resentment against you, other family members or even the deceased. Also, be prepared for more frequent outbursts of anger, either to vent his own grief or to respond to the tension and grief at home. It is important not to take this personally, but to see it as child-friendly processing. On the other hand, it may not show any reaction to the death of a loved one or the reactions are only temporary and mixed with his usual cheerfulness and play. That too is normal. Children process pain in small portions and not at once. And many postpone their grief until they believe it's safe to let those feelings go - this process could take months or even years, especially if they've lost a close relative.Your child may behave strangely even in your eyes. It's death, for example. Even if this seems macabre to you, do not stop it from this important way for him to process his feelings about death.
It may also be that your child appears heartless and cool compared to the reactions of older people. It may ask some very direct questions or ask for details about death. Remember: your child has no natural reserve and wants to understand what has happened.
How do you explain death to a kindergartner?
Do not Dodge His Questions
It's normal for a child to show curiosity about death, even if a loved one has died. Non-emotional moments are well suited to give your child the first approach to death and dying. Answer his questions about death and do not be afraid to read stories that touch on this topic. Books are a great way to get into conversation and support the workmanship. For example, good books on the topic are ""Does Grandpa wear a suit?"" by Amelie Fried and Jacky Gleich or when losing a pet: ""A hangover black as the night"" by Henning Mankell.
Provide short and simple answers
Small children can not process too much information at once. At this age, it is very helpful to explain death by saying that body functions have stopped working rather than plunging into a complicated discussion of a particular disease: ""Uncle Erwin has now died. His body is not working anymore. He can no longer walk, run, eat or sleep. But it does not hurt. ""Give Simple Reasons
When you try to explain the reason for death, you remain straightforward and unambiguous:"" Grandfather was old and his body could not work anymore. ""
Show your own feelings.
Grief is an important part of healing for children and adults. Explain that even adults sometimes have to cry, and that you are sad because you miss grandma. Your child will clearly perceive your feelings and mood swings, and it will be even more worrisome when it senses that something is wrong and that you want to keep something from him. This can greatly confuse your child, which can hinder him in his own emotional development.
Avoid euphemisms (euphemisms)
Frequent paraphrases of adults for death - ""rest in peace"", ""eternal sleep"" - are confusing to a small child - children can not understand these words Do not say that the deceased is ""asleep"" or ""gone from us."" Your child may fear that it might die if it falls asleep in the evening, or that something bad happens to you when you go to bed Work ""go away"".
Be careful when talking about God and the sky
Of course, this depends on your religious beliefs. However, if you tell your child that ""God always takes the best people,"" then your child may be afraid that it is not good enough to come to God - or, conversely, that he is behaving badly so that God may Some general remarks such as ""We are so sad that Grandma is not here anymore, we miss her so much, but it is good to know that she is with God now,"" comfort your child without him to worry about more.
Give Your Child Safety
Because little children believe the world revolves around them, sometimes they also think that one of their actions or thoughts could have caused the death of another. Make sure your child knows that this is not the case.
Imagine that the topic appears repeatedly
Prepare to hear the same questions from your child over and over again, as understanding the finality of death is very difficult for the child. It will probably come to you with new questions as his perception of death and his mental faculties grow.
Do not worry that you may not have properly explained death the first time - your child's standing questions are normal. You will find that even for you these unbiased questions and your answers can help you in your own grief work.
Even if you do not know the answer, try to find a common explanation with your child. Children from the age of four often have their own thoughts and ideas.
Remember the deceased
Children need firm ways to mourn the death of a loved one. Your child belongs to your family. If you dare, take your child to the funeral. So a child can experience what a memorial service means. You can talk about it together. Your child has the opportunity to learn that this person has not simply disappeared, but that all family members say goodbye to the dead.
Especially older people experience comfort in the gathering after the memorial service through the impartiality of children. Your child can also take a painted picture to a memorial service or throw a flower in the open grave. As a rule, children feel the seriousness of the situation and are well prepared for it.
It also helps to remember the good relationship it has had with the deceased person: ""Do you remember how you picked strawberries with Granny? You had so much fun together. ""
Talk about a miscarriage
If you have had a miscarriage, you will undoubtedly mourn, but perhaps it will surprise you to discover that your little darling is also upset, even if his idea of pregnancy is a bit sketchy.It may feel guilty about death or it may have dissolved because it has lost the role of the ""big sister or big brother"" you were preparing your child for.
Give your child the opportunity to join say goodbye, perhaps by making it a special gift for the baby.
Do not play down the death of a pet.
This is for many Children's first contact with death and it can be a very tragic event for them.The family dog or cat are often the first friends of a child to whom they give unconditional love and friendship.Almost be compassionate in the face of his loss.
Support it in Responding to News
Your child may not even be aware of the news coverage of national disasters or wars, but it is becoming perceptible if you are sad or worried about it, and it will certainly be heard by other children as well. Reassure your child and tell him that you will always take care of it and will do anything to make it safe.
Do your best to return to a ""normal"" life
Do not give up your child's usual daily schedule, as the routine gives him a sense of security. It has to go to bed on time, get up on time, get its food on time and, if it's in the kindergarten, it does not have to give up on it and on the friends there.
Do not Try to Be Perfect
If you are in deep mourning for a fatality, you can not expect to answer every question perfectly right the first time. Ask friends and family members for help and remember that the better you can handle it, the better you can help your child cope - now and later.