What Parents Should Know About The Fear Of Death In Kids
Experts have identified five major approaches on how to deal with the fear of death in children. Figure out which one your child ascribes to.
Ever heard of thanatophobia? Thanatophobia, or the fear of death, is common among children aged four to eight. It is very common for children of these ages to suddenly have fears about death and dying. Sometimes they have fears about themselves and sometimes about other people in their lives. How should parents help their children come to terms with this upsetting phobia? Are you wondering how to deal with the fear of death in children?
It can be disturbing for adults when the fear of death surfaces in children. We generally expect kids to be happy-go-lucky and fearless, and any phobia can be difficult for parents to address. When the fear is of death, it can be particularly challenging to cope.
Practical Tips And Strategies On How To Deal With The Fear Of Death In Your Children
Breathing for relaxation
Have your first aid breathing technique “7/11” at hand. Make sure your child gets plenty of exercise, playtime and fresh air. Cut down on sugars and starches.
A balanced life
Check that your child’s life is pretty well balanced, and that this fear isn’t a vent for another concern like schoolwork or bullying.
Schedule worry time
Plan for regular ‘worry time’ to discuss and address your kid's concerns. Put a cap on the time - 15 minutes at a time. And teach your child to save any further rumination on the subject for the next slot you have planned. ‘Park the little worry car’ for now.
Give worry a name
Externalize the worry by naming it. Call it a name like ‘worry monster’ (who worries about all sorts of things and death is one of them). Maybe your child can give the ‘worry monster’ a little metaphoric bed outside her bedroom door. He too needs sleep, after all.
Go on nature walks together
Take your child on outings in nature and examine the cycle of life in all the endless ways it manifests itself. Looking at how plant- and animal-life continuously transforms itself with the passing of the seasons, immediately fires up children. Make it an on-going and hands-on exploration.
Easy on the screen time
Talking about death in this context is helpful and reassuring. But an over-exposure to it from TV and the internet can be overwhelming. Work on this area, and ration screen time.
Tell stories about how to deal with the fear of death
They don’t need explaining but serve to build an inner map of the terrain of life and the inner strength people discover when faced with unexpected challenges and change. Look for support in good children’s literature.
Answer the question, mummy
Never fob your child off with half-baked answers or metaphors that won’t serve at this moment. Answers like: ‘death is going to heaven or living with God’ won’t help unless they are part of a bigger discussion.
Model the ability to live with uncertainty yourself
- Try to focus on the here and now.
- Check out your controlling tendencies and learn to relax more and allow things to unfold and evolve. It sets a great example.
- Perhaps you are inclined to block your deeper fears with food or shopping or chatting on the phone? Be honest.
Most importantly, praise your child for asking questions about death and dying.
Make sure you fully acknowledge his fear of not knowing when life will end and the discomfort that comes with it. Only then, when we acknowledge our fear, do we have a chance of taming the ‘worry monster’.
Remind your children that fear of dying can many times be a great impetus for people to live life to the fullest. When we know that something is going to “end,” it encourages us to make the most out of every single day! It’s all about moving through the fear and into the love for each moment and each breath we take here on planet earth.
Resource: Psychology Today