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does a 4 year old understand death?

we recently had a death in the family and my so doesnt plan on telling our son till he is older and understands more. But what am I suppose to tell him when he ask about her where abouts? He knows she was sick and he loved her lots. When she was well she would take him to the park or play outside. I feel bad by not telling him now but everyone thinks he is to small for this kind of thing. What should I do?

Answer Question

Asked by Anonymous at 3:12 PM on Dec. 6, 2008 in General Parenting

Answers (5)
  • my 3 y/o has understood the concept of death for a long time now.

    Answer by chyna_doll at 3:20 PM on Dec. 6, 2008

  • children do not understand completely of course, but they do have a concept of death I believe. I'm sorry that you have come to this milestone, so far all I've had to do is explain to my children about pets that have passed away and that was hard enough. I'm not telling you what to do. The best thing to do is what works for you. I personally, would tell him in the best possible way a child that age could understand. Children are aware of so much more than we give them credit for. I'm sure if he was close to this person, that he needs some kind of an answer. Good luck to you and your family. Sorry for your lose.

    Answer by maemaesmom at 3:25 PM on Dec. 6, 2008

  • I have a very dear friend who has 3 boys ages 2-7 and the older two had there dad pass away when they were young and then there stepdad was in an accident last year when the youngest was about 1 1/2 and passed as well. They all understand and pray for them every night. They seem to be doing VERY well understanding it all. As well as coping with it extremely well too.

    Answer by Anonymous at 3:27 PM on Dec. 6, 2008

  • I would tell them in the most innocent way possible according to your child's age. He is going to miss that person very much and you will have explain that person's absence. My condolences to your family. Talk to your husband about it and see what you two can come up with. I would ask your son questions first like "Do you know what death is" or Do you know what happens when someone dies" just to start the conversation.

    Answer by kim0167 at 3:44 PM on Dec. 6, 2008

  • My daughter is 3 and understands what death is...but as far as understanding its permanence or the emotional part of it, I just don't think she does.

    Answer by kabbot01 at 3:59 PM on Dec. 6, 2008

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