Discussing the meaning of death with your child

by Maxine
Posted December 20 2010 11:00am
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Whether it's a pet or a person, the death of a loved one can be a confusing, upsetting and possibly scary time for children. They may feel abandoned. They may think it's their fault for being bad or doing something wrong. Most children will wonder what happens to their pet or grandparent who dies. Children worry about whether they could die, too. Preschoolers almost all worry about whether you and other loved ones are going to die.

When talking to your child about death, approach the topic in a gentle and sensitive way. If your child is young, let him know that death is final and that all living things have a beginning and an end of life. Help your child understand that death is a part of the natural cycle. You can start with non-threatening examples, such as trees, butterflies, birds and fish, explaining that they all have their own life span.

Also tell your child that sometimes living things become ill or get hurt so badly that they can no longer stay alive. But emphasize that most people and pets can recover from their illness and hurt, and live until they are very old.

When discussing death with your child, try to be as open and honest as possible. It's best to follow your child's lead. Encourage your child to express what she thinks and feels, and to ask questions. Then do your best to answer them. But don't pretend that you have all the answers. It's a good idea to let your child know that you don't have all the answers, and that some things are hard for everyone to understand, no matter what their age.

It's not a good idea to use fairy tales, ghost stories or expressions like "going away" or "went to sleep" to explain death. If you tell a young child that grandpa "went to sleep," the child may become frightened of going to sleep, fearing that he will die too. If you believe in afterlife, explain your beliefs carefully but be aware that your young child may misunderstand some of it. It's important to explain to your child that he won't see the dead person or animal again on earth. For more assistance, talk to other parents, or visit a parent resource centre or bookstore for advice. 

There are many storybooks written for children on the topic of death.  Some are very specific, (e.g. death of a pet, death of a parent), while others just deal with the topic in general.  Most of these books are focused on certain ages, so you can see which books are written for your child’s age.  You can look up these books at your local library or book store.

A few of the books available include:  

  • I Had a Friend Named Peter by Miriam Cohen (friend)
  • Old Pig by Margaret Wild (grandma)
  • Tenth Good Thing about Barney by Judith Viorst (cat)
  • What's Heaven? by Maria Shriver (grandmother)
  • When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death by Laurie Krasney Brown (people)
  • The Accident by Carol Carrick (dog)
  • Badger's Parting Gifts by Susan Varley (friend)
  • The Fall Of Freddie the Leaf by Leo Buscaglia (oneself)
  • The Goodbye Boat by Mary Joslin (aging loved one)
  • Goodbye Mousie by Robie H. Harris (small pet)
  • Grandpa's Slide Show by D. Gould (grandfather)
  • I'll Always Love You by Hans Wilhelm (dog)
  • Jim's Dog, Muffin by Miriam Cohen (dog)
  • Saying Goodbye to Daddy by Judith Vigna (father)
  • Saying Goodbye to Grandma by Jane Resh Thomas (grandmother)
  • Sophie by Mem Fox (grandfather)
  • Swan Sky by Keizaburo Tejima (sibling)
  • When A Pet Dies by Fred Rogers (pet)


Have you had to deal with this issue with your preschooler? How did you handle it? Leave a comment below and share your experience with other parents.


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Back to School: Preparing Your Child for Kindergarten

by Maxine
Posted July 31 2010 05:03pm
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You will experience many different feelings about this important stage of your child’s growth and development. This is an exciting time for families and we have prepared a survival guide providing you with useful information as you cope with these changes and ideas and information that will help you along the way.




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Encouraging your quiet preschooler to speak

by Maxine
Posted August 8 2011 02:39pm
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To help your child to talk more, it's a good idea to talk to her whenever you're together, carrying on a flow of conversation about what you're doing, and about what she is doing. Try to be animated, using gestures and lots of expression in your voice. Emphasize important words and phrases. But you should pause frequently and for what may seem to be a long wait, so your child has a chance to digest what you have said and to respond. It also helps to have lots of books around and to read to your child often.

Try to encourage his talking by asking some open-ended questions (such as "How do you...?" or "What do you think?") or by talking about subjects he is interested in. Sometimes, for very quiet children, a good beginning is to ask him to fill in words in familiar rhymes or stories that they know by heart. Really listen to your child, getting down at his eye level and looking at him when he talks. When playing together, follow your child's lead and talk about what you're playing with.

It may be tough, but try not to get frustrated by what sounds like "baby talk" from your child. And don't correct your child's speech too much. The best thing you can do is set a good example in the way you talk.

If you are concerned that your child is behind in language, you may want to call the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists at 1-800-259-8519.

Do you have a quiet child? Do you find it hard to encourage her to speak? Share your experiences with other parents by leaving a comment below.

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Bake it Up - Tasty Treats for Healthier School Bake Sales

by Maxine
Posted January 8 2012 05:08pm
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Inside, you will find recipes for healthier baked goods that comply with the Ministry of Education's School Food and Beverage Policy.

Bake It Up! can also be promoted to staff, students and parents who wish to make healthier baked goods for school events or classroom celebrations, or to enjoy at home.

View the PDF and spread the word about this wonderful resource.




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