7 year old very interested in Death

Katie - posted on 04/01/2016 ( 3 moms have responded )




Hi Ladies,

I wanted to get some advice on whether or not to be concerned about my future stepson.

Let me give you a little background. Like the title said- he's a 7 year old boy who is an only child. His Mom and Dad split about 2 years ago and they have 50/50 custody. A week with each parent at a time. Another big part of what his issue may be is that his mom and dad did have a baby that was stillborn before they had him. He grew up knowing that he had an older brother that died, they have shown him pictures of him and he's seen his grave. He is incredibly smart academically but struggles emotionally and socially. He is very sensitive and a little insecure when it comes to interacting with his peers so he takes everything they do and don't do personally. We have had him in counseling for social anxiety and impulse control issues for about 2 months and that has seemed to be helping.

But lately he has seemed very focused around the idea of death. His first run in with death that we know of was from a friend that exposed him to horror movies on youtube and we had to correct the issue and talk to him about it not being appropriate to watch those kinds of things. Shortly after his Grandma's dog died and he had a very strong reaction to that. He originally went into counseling because he was having issues dealing with it and would randomly cry and become very upset if he thought about Sully no matter where he was or on the flip side he could be upset from something that happened around him and he would focus on Sully's death and start crying. From counseling we have learned the issues I stated above.

Now cut to about 2 weeks ago we were discussing a movie he was watching in school (Charlotte's Web) and I asked him what his favorite part of the movie was. He asked me What I would say if his favorite was when Charlotte died? He followed that question up with- not that it is! Just asking what you would say.. To which I followed up with- Well why would that be your favorite part? And he said he liked that she got to say goodbye and that dying is "a part of life". I told him that was true and we moved on talking about another movie (Hook) and I asked him what his favorite part of that movie was- he said when Rufio dies. At this point, I told him that he shouldn't focus so much on the dying and he responded with "But it's a part of life" and I told him that while it is, it's not the biggest part and that he should focus on the fun things and the funny things and the parts of life that feel good. He shrugged me off in the way that boys do and we continued on with our day.

This past Sunday- Easter- he made a comment about being his father's only son and I corrected him and reminded him of his older brother. To which he replied with- yeah, I remember, I know I wouldn't be alive if he was here. At this point, conversation around the table died and I asked him why he thought that and he told me that's what his mother told him. From that statement I got very very emotional and started crying. I told him that he should never think that because he is very special and loved and that he's not alive because his brother died. He did get upset when I started crying but we talked about it and he seemed to understand what we told him. Long story short, we got to the bottom of the conversation where she was trying to explain to him after he was asking questions about his older brother that she missed his older brother and was glad that she had him.

And last night, we received a text from his mother saying that he had just got a haircut and when she told him how nice he looked and how he was now ready to go somewhere fancy, he responded with yeah somewhere fancy or to my grave.

At this point, I'm at a loss for what to think. Is this normal behavior for a 7 year old boy and I'm making too big a deal out of it? I know it's disturbing how much he focuses on it and I know it's slightly abnormal but is it something to be concerned with? Any input or advice anyone could offer would be appreciated.


Michelle - posted on 04/01/2016




Hi Katie, I think it seems very reasonable for you to be concerned about your soon-to-be step-son's high interest in death. It really sounds like you have handled his inquiries really well so far!

I think it is important that we are honest with our children about death and to be prepared for an ongoing conversation with them to prevent trauma or confusion. It sounds like your son might feel some guilt about his older brother's passing. Hopefully counseling will help with that.

I don't know where your family stands with God or religion, but if I were you I would take this opportunity to talk with my child about our faith. Being able to assure children of Jesus Christ's gift of eternal life and hope of heaven, could be very soothing during times of grieving or confusion surrounding death.

Dove - posted on 04/01/2016




Since he is in counseling... I would just address all your concerns there. It is highly likely that death is just on his mind right now, but if it happens to be anything more his counselor would be the one w/ ideas on how to help him through it.


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Sarah - posted on 04/01/2016




I agree with Dove, that his counselor really needs to be aware of all of these issues. death is a scary thing for kids and it is hard to help them understand. I don't really understand why you corrected him about him identifying himself as his dad's only son. He's 7. So what if he didn't qualify it with "only living son"? I can't imagine he was trying to be disrespectful. He never even knew his brother, and that topic should be left for him to lead. Can you imagine what must be going on in his head?

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