How to Talk to Toddlers & Preschoolers about Death & Disaster
What to say when the unthinkable happens
Tips for Difficult Talks
Choose the right setting. Be sure to have the conversation with your child in a place where she feels safe and secure. If home’s too chaotic, choose another spot that your child is most comfortable in, whether it’s a park or diner.
Be honest. Experts agree honesty is best, even when your instinct is to protect your child by hiding a difficult truth.
Listen. Find out what your child understands about the situation and what his concerns are. When you understand them, you can address them.
Use simple language. Preschoolers and toddlers have limited verbal and cognitive skills, so be sure to explain in easy-to-understand terms.
Be patient and open. Children this age cannot comprehend the permanence of death—even if you tell them Grandma has died, they may still ask later where she is. Know that this is normal, and do your best to patiently address these questions. Your efforts will result in an emotionally healthier child.
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