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Age Related Guidelines

March 14th, 2014

As Donna and I pondered the topic this month, we wanted to make sure that we talked about the fact that many things die. Animals. People. Plants. Flowers. Bugs. Fish. All living things die. The most important thing when talking about the topic of death is to remember the child’s age. The age of the child is what guides your conversation. Here are a couple of age related guidelines directly from the extension.org article “Loss and Grief: Talking with Children”.

  • Infants. Children under a year old seem to have very little awareness of death, but do experience feelings of loss and separation. Infants might show similar signs of stress as an older child or adult who is coping with loss: crankiness, eating disturbance, altered sleep patterns, or intestinal disturbances.
  • Toddlers. Children between the ages of one and three generally view death as temporary. That’s why it’s very important to state simply and directly that the person has died and to explain what that means.
  • Young children. Children between the ages of three and six might believe their thoughts, feelings or actions can cause death. Feelings of responsibility and guilt can arise. It’s important to tell children what caused the death and be attuned to any sense of responsibility the child might convey.
  • Older children. School aged children begin to develop a more mature understanding of death, seeing it as both inevitable and irreversible.
  • Teenagers. Teenagers are going through many changes and life in general can be very challenging. During a time of loss and mourning, let your teenager know that you’re there for her/him. Be present while also allowing space and privacy. Respect your teenager’s feelings, listen well, and let them teach you about their grief and how you can help.

To view the whole article : Loss and Grief: Talking with Children

How have you talked with children about the loss of living things and people?  Share your conversations with your children about loss and death here.

Lori Hayungs

Additional resource for talking with children about death are below:

Talking to Children About Death

Helping Your Child Deal with Death

Children and Grief

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