Sometimes it becomes very difficult for a parent to explain the truth about death to their children. In most cases, parents feel that it is too early for their children to know that death exists as it has been viewed as dark or as evil. However, in one way or another, children will encounter a loss, either in the form of their loved pets, animals, or sometimes their grandparents, guardians, or their real parents. Assuming that children are too young to grieve is risky, and it may end up harming the children during their later stages of development. Parents ought to introduce the reality of death to their children as early as possible in a careful manner to prepare their children psychologically. It is, therefore, crucial for the parents to introduce to the children the reality of death so that they cannot be shocked when they see their elders grieving.
Loss From a Child’s Perspective
Scholars have devised new tactics for dealing with this hard-to-face fact. For instance, by including the concepts of death in children's stories, it becomes very to explain to their children in the bracket of fairy tales (Williams, 2014). The inclusion of death in children's stories induces anxiety and curiosity among the children. They end up asking many questions and parents can have a good point to start to explain to their children about death and its reality. Parents are even able to introduce sensitively concepts of burial, cremation, and memorials to their children with reference to the world of fairy stories.
Children also need to be informed when their close relatives, neighbors, caregivers, or siblings have died, how they died, when they died, and where they died. For the children who have read or heard about the death in fairly tales, it becomes easier to cope with the situation. For example, scholars have come up with elegant ways of introducing children to the reality of death through picture books (Jay, Thomas & Dale, 2012). In such books, the authors explain death through illustrations and pictures of the some of the things that children find interesting such as pets. In the pictures, the children are taught the beauty of the next world where the dead go. It becomes easier for the children who have learned about the beauty of the death to accept the loss of their loved ones and to grieve believing that they will meet once again.
The earlier the parents help their children to make peace with the reality of death, the better. Children need to make peace with the reality of death as a constant companion and a stage that every living being will have to go through. Preparing children early enough helps avoid unnecessary fear and the uncomfortable feelings that might interfere with their psychological development during their later stage. Understanding death as an inevitable yet essential part of our lives will be helpful for child development (Loss from a child's perspective | Cruse Bereavement Care, 2016).
While providing the support and assistance to understand death, parents should do it in bits. From infants up to three years of age, parents should not mention the idea of death. Instead, they should instill coping behaviors in their children. From 3 to 6 years, parents should start helping their children to read children's stories on death and loss, confront the magical thinking that children may have observed from cartoons as well as keep modeling the coping behaviors. That way, the parents trigger children's curiosity, and they can start asking more and more questions about death.
Jay, C., Thomas, J., & Dale, U.-J. (2012). What Does Dead Mean?: A Book for Young Children to Help Explain Death and Dying. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Loss from a child's perspective | Cruse Bereavement Care. (2016). Cruse.org.uk. Retrieved 10 March 2016, from http://www.cruse.org.uk/Children/loss-from-childs-perspective
Williams, I. (2014). A child's eye view of death: the power of picture books to explain. The Guardian. Retrieved 10 March 2016, from http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2014/oct/21/-sp-children-death-books-explain-bereavement
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