How to explain the death of his puppy to a 4 year-old? We have to put the puppy down.

Donna - posted on 04/19/2010 ( 2 moms have responded )

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Austin's puppy, Scrufty, has a birth defect that will cause him to have 0 quality of life. He's in a lot of pain now, can't walk or stand, and we've pretty much made the decision to have the puppy put down. Austin LOVES this puppy, talks about him all the time, plays with him, feeds him, etc. Austin knows Scrufty is sick and feels bad. How do I explain the puppy's death when it happens? This puppy is one of a litter of 9 our female dog had back in January 2010, so Austin has lived with this puppy from day one. Austin & Scrufty picked each other and it's obvious they love each other. I just don't know how explain the whole thing to him. For the puppy to just disappear is NOT an option. Do kids understand 'dead' at the age of 4? HELP!

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Brandi - posted on 04/19/2010

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Be as direct and honest with him as possible. Answer his questions honestly and age-appropriately. I would say to go to your local funeral home and ask if they have a pamphlet to help you to discuss death with your young child (when my pap died, I was 16 but my youngest sister was only 7 and the funeral home we used had pamphlets about just this topic. I would go there to get some really good advice. I agree with you that making the puppy "disappear" is cruel and teaches the child nothing. Kids can understand "dead" at 4, just in VERY rudimentary terms. For example, Scruffy is not going to be able to play with you anymore. He is very sick, and he will die (or died if you choose not to tell him beforehand). Give him a soft place to fall and make sure he knows it's ok to feel sad. Let him talk about Scruffy if he wants to. Just be as open and honest as possible. Sesame street has a really good special you can purchase about losing a loved one that you might watch with him after Scruffy is gone. I'm sorry, but I forget what it is called, but it is fairly new. Katie Couric was in it and several other families that have lost a parent or loved one. Just be sure to validate any feelings he has and let him know that ANY feeling he is having is OK. I'm so sorry about your sad situation. Good luck.

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Annemaree - posted on 04/19/2010

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i am not a religious person at all but my kids n me always say when u die well go to heaven a magical place where people and animals get angel wings and look after us peopole down here on earth our dog which the kids haver had since b4 they were born died last year a very sad time for all of us .. my oldest was 5 and my youngest at the time was 4... we just said he was very very sick n that they should give him a cuddle cause the angels want to take him n give him his wings lol when my husband went to bury our fury friend the kids wanted to go too as they thought daddy was taking boofy to the gates of heaven....... with time n excitement of tellinjg them that boofy was flying around running a muck up in heven , they become used to the idea!! i know its a hard one to takle .. i didnt know what else to say lol that seems to work for us .... we have photos of boof all around the house n they are encouraged to talk about him all i can say is good luck and am sorry for ur loss of your fury friend

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