how do you exsplain to a 4 year old?

Martina - posted on 02/25/2010 ( 13 moms have responded )

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my son keeps asking why we grow old then die? i don't know where this came from or how to exsplain it i just keep distracting him with other things to avoid it but he brings it up again later.

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Christine - posted on 02/26/2010

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It is a fact of life.... he is just trying to sort things out in his head. My children keep asking about the same things. Just try and answer honestly. You can reassure him that you are going to be around for a long time and that you love him very much. But all living things die, and new things are born. Still.... don't avoid it. Try and answer honestly, and reassure that you will be around for a long time (if that is what is worrying him). Try never to avoid anything though... we want our children to ask us about anything, and to feel that they can trust us with asking anything. There will be many more topics to discuss as they get older.... just use this as an opportunity to get the communication going.

Chantelle - posted on 02/26/2010

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my daugther alsow asked me that,when my grandmother passed on, i explaine to her that Jesus came to fetch his angels to come and help Him in heaven, and i told her to look up in the sky and pick a star, that one will be her angle watching ofer her at nite.

Desirae - posted on 02/25/2010

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Because that is the way God made us and our bodies return to the earth He made for us when our spirit goes to heaven.



I believe it so that is what I told my daughter...



Tell him what you personally believe... but remember to keep it simple.



I tell my husband that talking to a child is like being in court. If the answer to your question, is more than two or three 8-9 word sentences then your answer is too long and she's not gonna get it.

Rebecca - posted on 02/25/2010

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(and now i read over the other replies and you see you don't have to freak out at all, because there are several ways listed here of explaining it.)

Rebecca - posted on 02/25/2010

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i would go for a 'scientific' explanation: there are very tiny things in our bodies called cells; cells make everything work in our bodies. every now and again a cell makes a mistake, and over a long stretch of time, the mistakes add up and eventually there's enough mistakes in our cells that important parts of our body stop working, then things go wrong, so we get sick and and then we die. you can give examples like what happens when the heart 'breaks', or the kidneys, or any other major organ. but if he's lost interest by this point (which he probably will) don't bother.

i.e. don't treat it like a philosophical question ... because then all you can give him as an answer is theories that people have based on their religious beliefs -- but if you want you could discuss your particular beliefs about why people die in simple language ... if you have any belief.

you are freaking out, but he is merely collecting information about this new subject called death -- and who knows where he heard about death -- could be anywhere, a kid at school whose grandparent died or a dead bird.

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Rebecca - posted on 03/01/2010

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o yes, i've explained death in terms of recycling as well ... also with the flower example, the when the flower dies it leaves behind a fruit or seed, which goes to make a new life. i also explained that when things die they decompose, and this becomes compost, so a new life grows out of the old life.

Elizabeth - posted on 02/28/2010

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Gosh. Explaining that to a 4 year old IS a toughie. I don't remember when my daughter asked that, but I think she was in school already.

AtT any rate, I went with the "population" explanation. As in, if no one ever died, then there'd be no room for any new people to be born. It's like people walking into a room with no other doors or windows...eventually the room fills up and no one else fits through the door.

But I also paired that with an explanation that I believe that even though our bodies wear out and die, our souls and the energy that make us who we are does NOT die.

I'm a Christian, so I believe that our souls go to heaven. But for folks who lean more toward the scientific mindset, the same explanation holds true (just leaving out the souls/heaven part). Any scientist can tell you that energy doesn't ever just disappear, it only changes form. So it stands to reason that the energy that makes us "alive" just changes form when our bodies die.

I think we also talked about death being a way of recycling life. People die, their bodies are returned to the earth, which helps the plants grow, which provides more people with food to live and then they get old and the cycle begins again...but that discussion was just in the last couple of years (she's 9). She's my little tree-hugging, eco-friendly, animal rights activist, so recycling and earth-friendly themes are big in our family, LOL.

Shikha - posted on 02/27/2010

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Hi...I'd like to share how I've been tackling the same issue at my end. I made her understand by citing the example of a flower. I took her to the garden so she could have a look at a flower ageing! After she saw a flower bloom on its first day and wilt on its last day...I explained to her about How natural it is for every being that comes into existence to eventually age and pass away. She does get worried saying if her mom (me) will die too...its then that I tell her that there's a lot of time before that happens and till then I'm gonna be there for her. She now understands the concept atleast.

Karen - posted on 02/26/2010

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The library usually is a great resource plus it also introduces the opportunity for your son to know where to go to get answers to most of his questions in life. Plus you can get "age appropriate" material which helps you as a parent from sometimes babbling too much and getting off track. Sometimes kids are fine with the one sentence answer and sometimes they want more details. It is good to start an open dialogue with them when they are young as long as it is age appropriate, hopefully then they want to talk to you first instead of their friends as their questions and problems become more serious. Good Luck!

Heather - posted on 02/25/2010

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HI .... i had the same convo with my lil boy but .....it was my fault reli in my job people die and i got attacted to one resident (it was hard not to she was the most wonderful and beautiful old person i had ever met) so basicly he noticed me cryin and asked why i didint want him to think it was him so i said she had died and he asked why i said that her body had got very tired and she was going to be a young angel in the sky .....he said to me .. mum will she not be tired anymore and i said no ... he looked at me and said why u crying then i said because im sad he then seemed to accept it and know if sombodys dies he so matter of a fact and says they are tired ...... really it all depends on you you can tell them the truth but gloss over it tell them about angels and heaven .......

Michelle - posted on 02/25/2010

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one way it to tell him that God's garden needs an extra special plant so he calls on of his seeds to go up to heaven to grow in his garden.

[deleted account]

I just tell them in simplified terms why people die. You don't want to overwelm them or freek them out but give them something so it settles their mind. We had cats that disappeared so that opened up the talk about dying. My 4 1/2 yr old knows that people and animals don't live forever but she doesn't obsess about it. Just explain that at some point everyone dies. Maybe find a kids book that would help explain it to him. If you keep avoiding it, he'll keep asking. Give him enough info that will satisfy him. My son is 7 1/2 and he's at the stage that he knows too, but thinks more about it. He thinks that my husband will die first, then me, then him, then my daughter because of our ages. I tried to tell him that people don't always die when their old, but I don't want to go all the way into it and scare him. Just give them the info they ask for and next time it comes up again, they'll have other questions.

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