Thursday, 2 June 2011

The Toddler and the Big issue of Death

How do you teach your toddler the concept of Death? Some people tend to shy away from the harshness of it, and even do not take their children to memorials and funerals.

We are very lucky that we did not have to expose the Toddler to the concept of death at all up until now!

But somewhere she has heard about it. I suspect the day care playmates had something to do with it! The same little boys who taught her how to “peu-peu” (shooting sound) with a “gun” (any stick)…

She now regularly tells us that when she sees somebody has been hurt on television, or there is talk of someone getting injured:

“He has died!” (“Hy het doodgegaan” ) – With very serious, but also inquisitive eyes.

And then we have to tell her, “No, he is not dead! He only got hurt!”

I believe that we should not shy away from the word, and that we should also learn our children about it. But in a positive, natural and reassuring manner! I want her to have respect for life, and value all that is living. Even insects! But I don’t want her to be afraid of it, and fear for the safety of her loved ones!

I am waiting for the next dead insect that we see lying around. I hope that will aid me in trying to explain!

How do you tell your little ones about death?


  1. We found a little dead bird int he garden - had a funeral and all. I know it sank in with the then 5 year old but maybe not for the 3 year olds.

  2. I think its hard to explain to a small child what death is.. heck its even hard for some adults to understand why someone is gone.. I know one who told their child that the person who passed 'went on to a better place where they were free of pain'... Or, I guess you could tell them that death is part of living, that we all go through that cycle, though that may scare them depending on their maturity level.

  3. My daughter and I have had numerous conversations about death, some quite existential. She first knew of death seeing an aniboom animation with me, she found it very intriguing, and completely grasped the fact. She also immediately deduced that we are all mortal and animals too (she knew that because she has been rather hands on for the food arrival).
    The cutest yet saddest thing is that she tells me she wants to die when I die

    Oh ad have I ever told you how much I love Afrikaans! So cute yoru LO speaks it

  4. That is a difficult one, but I am sure you will handle it with wisdom.

  5. Death is such a difficult subject to tackle with kids and it continues to be difficult as catastrophic events happen around the world and even people close to them pass away. Good luck in talking with her. I truly believe that being as open and honest as age-appropriately as possible is extremely important.
    Thanks so much for stopping by last week. Hope you had a great weekend! I'm following you now via GFC. :)


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