How to Talk to Kids About Death

For young kids, death can be a difficult thing to understand. Betsy Brown Braun, author of "Just Tell Me What to Say," shares what you can say to ease your child's mind.


[MUSIC] Children start learning about death way younger than you can imagine. When you take a two year old for a walk after a rain and you see a bunch of worms on the sidewalk, you can say oh. That worm is dead or when the trees fall in the Fall and they fall off the tree you can say oh the leaves have died, they've fallen off the tree. It's really important that you use real words when you talk to your kids about death. Children need to learn to deal with the real thing which is called death. Died, dying, dead. We say dead means that someone or something is all done living. None of the parts of that person or animal's body work anymore. The person doesn't eat or sleep or laugh or talk or pee or poop. He's all done living. And that means he's dead. To the older child, we say a little bit more. We do say that, dead means someone is all done living and then we explain that everything that is alive has a life cycle. Cycle. People, flowers, animals, everybody has a life cycle. You start out when you're born, and then you're a baby, and then you grow up, and then you become an adult, and then you get very, very, very old. At the end of your life, you die. It happens with everything that's alive. This is a hard one to talk about, especially hard for parents. But for children what they will do with this information about death is they'll personalize it. And they'll want to know right away are you going to die, am I going to die. And of course the answer is yes, but we do everything we can to reassure our children of all ages and we say look. I'm gonna live for a very, very, very, very, very, very, very long time. I'm gonna be here for a long, long time. Death is a loaded topic but to children it isn't loaded at all. So your attitude and your tone in talking about this in your regular voice and not in hush tones will make it much easier for you child to digest. [MUSIC]

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