jump to last post 1-14 of 14 discussions (14 posts)

How do you explain death and dying to a toddler?

  1. ThePracticalMommy profile image97
    ThePracticalMommyposted 6 years ago

    How do you explain death and dying to a toddler?

  2. danajconnelly profile image70
    danajconnellyposted 6 years ago

    I'd wait and let them ask the questions first. That will be a good place to start from. And make your answers true. If you attempt to sugar coat now, you may be found out later, tarnishing a trust between you and your child.

  3. duffsmom profile image60
    duffsmomposted 6 years ago

    A toddler cannot really conceive of what death is.  I would wait for the explanation until the child is older.

  4. Onusonus profile image81
    Onusonusposted 6 years ago

    I've been explaining death to my kids since the beginning. It's not too hard to talk about once they know that they will live again.

  5. MickS profile image71
    MickSposted 6 years ago

    Just explain it as it is, children are much strunger than adults think.

  6. larcaustin46 profile image85
    larcaustin46posted 6 years ago

    What's Heaven, by Maria Shriver, is a beautifully written children's book explaining death and some of the beliefs, rituals, and traditions surrounding it, through the eyes of a little girl whose grandfather has died.  We read it to our preschooler when my grandmother passed away, and it helped her understand everything that was happening around her.  You might want to check it out before buying it, to see if it fits with your beliefs, but it does a good job of explaining alternative ways of celebrating life.

  7. greatparenting profile image61
    greatparentingposted 6 years ago

    I think the truth works, even for a toddler. And, you may also want to share your beliefs but not give the child more information than he or she can handle. Use the word "die" or "dying" though, and give as little information as possible. Then, if the child asks for more information you can answer his or her questions as best you can. When our kids were little, my dad died (after an illness) in our home. Our daughters saw how peaceful he was and we just said that Grandpop had been sick and had died and that he wasn't in pain anymore. That seemed to be enough for them.

  8. tirelesstraveler profile image82
    tirelesstravelerposted 6 years ago

    As a whole our society tends to say too much or too little to small children.  The rule of thumb is a child has the attention span of one minute for each year of their lives until age 5. As a preschool teacher for 12 years I have discovered simple honest and truthful is best. You might say to a young child, "Grandma  died". When they are ready for more they will ask. Then you might say " When bodies get old they wear out and stop working. Grandma or grandpa's body doesn't work too well anymore." If you are a person of faith you can talk about heaven and how some day you will see grandma again in heaven. Keep it simple.

  9. Sherry Hewins profile image95
    Sherry Hewinsposted 6 years ago

    Lots of children have their first experience with death when a pet or animal dies. If they witness death in this way, they begin to understand that people too will die. I wouldn't try to explain unless it is nesessary, like if a family member dies, when it is they will understand at a pretty young age.

  10. Nicholas Ikumi profile image59
    Nicholas Ikumiposted 6 years ago

    My daughter is nine years old,She knows what life and death is though she has had no close encounters with it.don't explain too much,just tell her the truth.it saves you the trouble of explaining it to them repeatedly over a long period of time for one persons death.

  11. leahlefler profile image99
    leahleflerposted 6 years ago

    Helping children to grieve after the death of a pet or loved one is a difficult process. This guide addresses the basic questions of very young children with regard to death, and explores our son's first exposures to death - first in nature, then with a pet, and then with a grandparent who died when he was five years old. read more

  12. Kaye McCulloch profile image61
    Kaye McCullochposted 6 years ago

    It depend on your toddler's language levels (ie are we talking 18 months or closer to 3 years?), but I'd stick with what some others have said about keeping it simple, answering questions rather than offering information. If there's been a death, and it's someone the toddler will miss, then explain to them simply that she/he has died, and only go into more detail if they ask. In short, always give the simplest true answer you can, and see whether that will satisfy or not.

  13. ljrc1961 profile image83
    ljrc1961posted 6 years ago

    Children understand more than you think.  However, they don't understand the in depth feelings that adults experience and look at things rather simplistically.  When my own children were young (one 3 and the other 8), our beloved Grandma died.  I went and saw her in the hospital the night she died and when I came home, they wanted to know what had happened.  My son understood a bit more but my daughter who was 3 adored her Busica.  I told them that Buscia's body had been hurting and she didn't want to leave any of us because she loved us so very much.  However, when a person's body cannot work right without machines or lots of doctors, sometimes it gets so tired that it is hard for that person to keep it going and sometimes they want to let go of their body and let it stop working but they allow us to keep them alive through our pictures, thoughts and happy memories.  I took them to see her casket the next day.  We were alone and it was such a beautiful moment.  They walked up to her with me and I kissed Buscia on the cheek.  I put my hand on her arm and said, "Feel Buscia.  Her body is stiff and cold now.  Her body has let go."  My kids felt her and said that they could feel that.  Then they looked at all her pictures surrounding the room and saw some rosebuds in her casket too.  They asked if they could take a petal off of a flower nearby and place it in the casket.  I told them they could.  They found a nearby rose and took one petal each and kissed it and put it in her casket.  We then told Buscia's body how much we would miss her and how much we loved her and touched her arms some more.  When others began to come in the room, we sat down.  Never once did my little one's question her death and we still talk about her .  She loved Red Lobster biscuits and have on occasion put one at her grave knowing that the squirrels would eat it for her.  I make death a beautiful thing for children and stress the importance of the love we shared with that person.

  14. kal30314 profile image61
    kal30314posted 6 years ago

    You be surprise what toddler of today all ready know. I would just ask to see what my toddler know about death. The movie the Lion King to me is a great start.