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How to help child who is afraid of dying?

My seven-year-old son this week suddenly became extremely fearful of dying. Despite reassurances from myself and my husband he says it just keeps popping in his head. Will this pass? What should I do?
Submitted by beth.pierson

First things first: It is very common for children your son’s age to suddenly have fears about death and dying.  Sometimes they have fears about themselves and sometimes about other people in their lives.  Unless it persists for a couple months or causes him distress that is significant enough to interfere with his daily functioning (at school, socially, behaviorally) then I do not see a need to seek professional help.


The key from a parenting perspective is to remain patient, comforting and reassuring.  It is 100% okay to discuss death in factual terms (without the gory details) with a seven-year-old.  For example, you can acknowledge that we all die at some point but assure him that he is going to live a long, long time before he will die.  The fact that you can’t guarantee this is not important – it is, in all likelihood, true.  Be careful not to criticize or minimize his fears.  Let him know that it is okay to worry sometimes, tell him you love him and then see if you can find something for the two of you to do together that will get his mind off it.  Most likely it will cease being an issue before you know it.


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When my son was almost 5 he blurted out that he didn't want to die and then asked if we "grow back". This question came up repeatedly at bedtime. At first I told him that we do die but life goes on for a long time. Upon the advice of a friend, i later told him that as he gets older he will discover his beliefs abt life & death. Some faiths believe in reincarnation. I want him to know that he will decide his own beliefs as he learns and interacts more. But I see his parents as a guide.
Submitted by SuperheroMama
My 7 year old son is having the EXACT same thing happen. The thought of dying keeps popping into he head and he says he can't stop thinking about it. We brought him to a child psychologist and she suggested it may be Intrusive thought OCD. I am curious to know if you son is doing better?
Submitted by sdwojcik
I don't know if it's right or not.. but I told my 4 year old that only 'very old' people die and even after they die they go to heaven and enjoy their life there, so it's not bad to die.. as for us we will always be together, u hav to grow up and be a dad, I and ur father and ur brothers will always be there with you coz we are a family. (i am not comfortable with the fact that i told him that kids don't die)
Submitted by Momy88
I'd like to know why all of a sudden this developed. Get him to talk about why he is fearful of it and what it was that made him think he should be afraid. It is extremely important that a child have a spiritual foundation even if they do not follow it into adulthood. This helps them handle anything life brings their way because we never know when any one of us may die even if we are that child's mother/father or sibling. All of life has an ebb and flow to it with balance and we must not be afraid of anything. Children need to understand this at an early age and see you living this belief in actions not just words. I believe children should go to funerals - it used to be commonplace to be around death and it was a part of life. This way children will come to accept death as a part of life which it is.
Submitted by kpeden