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Exploring Death

Ok...I am not a mom, but a nanny. I love this site though because who better to get advice from than moms! Anyways, the four year old boy that I watch has recently been curious about death. For example he wanted to role-play a funeral situation. Is this something normal for a child to go through? And can I have some opinions on what is too much or too little information to give him? I don't want to make a big deal about something that isn't, but his mom (who has a horrible fear of death herself) is concerned about his interest. My thinking is that she wants to avoid him developing a fear that she has struggled with her whole life. Any thoughts??

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Asked by ei_home at 10:05 AM on May. 26, 2011 in Preschoolers (3-4)

Level 5 (92 Credits)
Answers (5)
  • I have a boy who just turned 5 and he has not asked questions like that (funeral role playing) but we have talked about when people die, where they go and so forth. Maybe mom could get a book that explains death to that age group? You could also let him do the talking and see what he knows and doesnt know. I think at this age, they dont need to know too many details.

    Answer by smushy79 at 10:46 AM on May. 26, 2011

  • At that age my first question would be where is he getting the funeral thing from? My children asked about death then, but not the funeral thing. They didn't get curious about funerals until we went to one. I would first talk with mom and see how much she wants you to discuss with him. Since it sounds like she may have difficulty discussing it with him due to her fear I would definitely offer to help out, but normally I would say this is not a nanny's place.

    Answer by aeneva at 11:39 AM on May. 26, 2011

  • I would never post something like this without talking to his mom first...I am not his parent or the final authority figure in his life. I have her full support in my question.

    Comment by ei_home (original poster) at 11:50 AM on May. 26, 2011

  • It is normal and healthy. All living beings are born and all eventually die. Most Disney films have a theme of grief and loss:Bambi, Nemo, The Little Mermaid. And most have the theme of having to be rescued from certain doom and death. It is all about the circle of life. Talking about life, living, sickness, dying, and death should be a healthy on going conversation. Since my son has been three he has had some concerns about death and dying. Two nights ago he asked what it feels like to be dead. I would have rather talked about the actual dying process...a lot easier. But not his focus. And his attention was on what happens to him after he is dead. Again - time for conversation. A time to share as a parent your beliefs and ideas. I offered him the idea some people choose to believe in Heaven and life up there after death. Because he did not like the idea of nothing for eternity

    Answer by frogdawg at 1:21 PM on May. 26, 2011

  • was not appealing. We explore the idea of both birth, life, sickness, and death as it comes. What is more uncomfortable for children is having a parent who ignores death and avoids the subject. It creates unnecessary fear. As his nanny he picks up on your cues. As a parent of course I want my son's teachers and nanny on the same page. I also respect they have different views of death and dying. Communication is key for me. What are the nanny's observations and concerns? How would she be most comfortable? How can she support my values I want to pass on? No worries. This kid sounds normal and appropriate for his age. I would suggest avoiding or ignoring is not the best way. Tackling it straight on is a better option.

    Answer by frogdawg at 1:27 PM on May. 26, 2011

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