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Honestly.

You'll need to be more specific if you want a more specific answer than that. It really depends a lot on the context of the situation, such as how old the child is, how the question arose, etc.

In general, it's best to wait until your kids ask you for information before you discuss sex, death, or other big issues with them, but when they do ask you, don't duck the issue. I wouldn't try to present death in a positive light, but to present a positive message via stressing the fact that this means that taking care of your life is important.

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I do apologize as I should have been more specific.

My child is five years old and he prompted the question. He wanted to know what had happened to a relative. I told him that he died and he asked me what "died" means. I wasn't quite sure how to go about answering a question like that to a five-year-old. I want to be truthful but I don't want to scare him. He is my first child as you can probably tell. He's a very intelligent child so he can understand much of what I explain to him but I just don't know how to go about explaining such a thing to him. If he was your child, what would your words be?

Edited by GoldenOne
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My child is five years old and he prompted the question. He wanted to know what had happened to a relative. I told him that he died and he asked me what "died" means. I wasn't quite sure how to go about answering a question like that to a five-year-old. I want to be truthful but I don't want to scare him. He is my first child as you can probably tell. He's a very intelligent child so he can understand much of what I explain to him but I just don't know how to go about explaining such a thing to him. If he was your child, what would your words be?

I had this discussion with my son when he was somewhere arround the same age. As with any other issue, be truthful and answer honestly any questions which may arise. After the child learns about the concept (and has some time to think about it) he will probably be concerned with your death (and his other loved ones) and then his own. He will need reassurance.

I told my son that our bodies work less efficiently with time and that after enough time passes (and I stressed that it is a long time usually) they stop working all together. Then I told him about all the things a person can do to keep themselves healthy and thus hopefully live longer which brought him a new, more in dept understanding of the concept of healthy life style. I made sure that he knew that I am healthy and that I was doing a lot of those things and that he has nothing to worry about for a long time.

Finally, we have talked about advances in medicine and the fact that human life span may be extended by a lot by the time he gets to be old. Then we discussed accidents (not that I brough it up - he did - darn it). This was little thougher to deal with. There are probably better things to say but I could not think of any at the time so I just said that accidents are not that frequent (I had to also explain what not that frequent means specifically) and that we can take alll kinds of safety measures when necessary - giving him many examples (like being alert and careful when crossing the street or by wearing a helmet when snowboarding). I also mentioned that the possibility of danger should not stop a person from living their life but that one should do it with focus.

I think a big part of reassurance came from being provided with solutions, from having the sense of control.

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If he was your child, what would your words be?
My dad died when my son was around 3 or 4. It was a long time coming, with his cancer getting worse, so we had told him that grandpa was very ill and would die. I no longer remember the exact way we explained what dying was, but I'm guessing we explained something along the lines Sophia mentioned aboveL that human beings live for about 70 years or so, and then their bodies get weaker, and die. We might alsom have used other examples, like when you squash an insect, it dies. When grandpa died, it was a non-issue for him.

A couple of years later, my mom-in-law died, all of a sudden, of a stroke, and while visiting us. My son was older and more attached to her, and -- since she was visiting -- he had just spent a couple of weeks renewing the bond. Granny collapsed, was taken to hospital, while he went to a friends house for a night. The next evening granny died. When told him, he took it much worse than we anticipated. He's usually very calm, but he almost became hysterical, shouting "don't tell me that!", "I don't want to hear that!", covering his ears, curling up on the floor and weeping. Only a young cousin could be with him, comforting him.

A few days later, at the funeral, he was his normal self. Sometime over the years (he's almost 10 now) he did ask us when we would die. I don't remember exactly what I've told him. I guess I must have listed the ages at which his 3 grandparents died (one still going strong), and explained that it was unlikely that we -- his parents -- would die younger than that. At various points I might even have explained about saving, and insurance and wills and guardians, even adding a reverse example, telling him that if his aunt and uncle both died, we would be the ones taking care of his cousins.

If I were to guess what my son says and put in into words, it would go something like: "My mom and dad will probably die when I'm about 40 years old, with a family and kids of my own.".

Apart from the questions I mentioned, we haven't seen any signs of worry about death: either his own or ours. OTOH, I have heard of kids who get rather worried about death. So, each kid is probably different. Overall, the best approach is to wait until the time is right, but not later, and then give them the truth at their level of understanding, and with no more complexity than they can handle.

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My father gave me the then-official "scientific materialist" view on this one, which is actually not all too far from the truth. I already had the concept "death" by that time (perhaps from seeing people die in movies, or seeing animals killed, ...) so the only new piece of information for me was that it involves the complete cessation of consciousness.

I don't remember how old exactly I was at this time, but I simply accepted it as a fact of life and didn't worry about it at all. I even remember thinking that those who want to believe in "life after death" might as well want to believe in "life before birth." I was much more intrigued by the fact that the world had existed before I was born than by events far away beyond the nebulous horizon of the future.

I think the sooner you teach your kids about the nature of death, the better. They're likelier to accept it as a given--as a fact of reality like the alternation of day and night or cycle of the seasons--and once they've accepted it, it won't even occur to them that it could be otherwise.

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I was much more intrigued by the fact that the world had existed before I was born than by events far away beyond the nebulous horizon of the future.

I like to think of this issue in terms of Badger Clark's poem The Westerner:

The world began when I was born

And the world is mine to win.

To carry this to the opposite end, it just means: The world ends when I die.

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I like to think of this issue in terms of Badger Clark's poem The Westerner:

To carry this to the opposite end, it just means: The world ends when I die.

If more people thought like this we wouldn't have all this nonsense of "preserving the earth for future generations".

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Why so?

Not that it is an argument, but if I recall correctly Ayn Rand said something very similar in an interview with Phil Donahue.

As a poetic metaphor, especially the part about the world being mine to win, it's ok.

But seriously, knowing what happened before one's birth helps explain the state of the world today, and it helps to guide one's actions for the future. Lastly the world won't end when you die, or when I die, or when anyone dies. The world will go on. there are such things as legacies one leaves behind, particularly to those people one cares about and values (friends, children, associates, etc). So it cannot be taken literally because it's not so.

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If more people thought like this we wouldn't have all this nonsense of "preserving the earth for future generations".

LOL !! That's not it :confused:

Surely the lives of your children are in your own self-interest

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Yep, but my great-great grandchildren--not so much.

There's also that that, that with technology advancing all the time, there is the possibility of a serious advancement of the human life span, and i wouldnt want to fuck stuff up just because i thought id die at 80.

Also, my childrens and grandchildrens happiness is a value to me(if i had any), so i would not want to be the person to condemn their children, grandchildren, or any other persons that is of value to them to death. Let's say your grandchild is of value to yourself. Would you want to be the person who is responsible for him to never have children or grandchildren of his own?

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