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I want DS(6) to stop talking about death

(19 Posts)
FatalCabbage Mon 10-Nov-14 13:47:16

PFB (DS1, 6) talks about death all the time. It's partly because of a new interest in history, and partly just his age, I guess.

We get lots of "How did X die?" or "why does x kill you?" or "did you know that x can kill you?" And by lots I mean perhaps 1/4 to 1/2 of his conversation, some days. So far, so normal. But we also get "Did you know that if x, DS2 would die?" or "you could kill DS3 by x".

I know that he's just interested - he has always been a very straightforward little boy, very into science and the natural world, and now with a new keenness for history because of Horrible Histories on CBBC, "Stupid Deaths" and so on.

At this point I'm aware you're probably hmm and thinking "He'll grow out of it, give it time, what's the issue?"

Well, the issue is that I have PTSD (1998) and ongoing anxiety issues, currently not well managed not least because the waiting list is over eighteen months long. Currently manifesting as severe post-natal anxiety (actually, the doctor recently gave me a head tilt and a "well, I think we're a bit beyond that now") with psychotic episodes. I spend a lot of time worrying that my children are dying - at present I don't believe it's inevitable, but sometimes I am literally waiting for them to die and hyper alert to any danger. The other day, when getting DS3 ready for bed, I had to put him in his cot and go away for five minutes because I was so worried I would cause his death by eg tripping and dropping him. So the constant reminders from DS1 are undoing any rationalisation I can muster.

DH says he'll speak to DS1 but I don't know what he could possibly say.

Should we just ride it out? Is it likely to last long?

FatalCabbage Mon 10-Nov-14 13:50:37

NC fail, please don't put my name in any replies, I'm hoping MNHQ will be able to edit!!

Ir1na Mon 10-Nov-14 15:24:22

Reminds me of when I was a child! I did this, and was interested in news articles about accidents, and when we got a TV I was allowed to watch horror films which I loved and still do (infact I think I asked for them most of the time).
I have never harmed anyone!! Your DS sounds perfectly normal, you need counselling for yourself if anything. DM sounded similar to you after my brother was born and she used to go on about people having weird accidents which I didn't help with by enjoying it half the time but she got over it after a while and is fine now. smile

girlywhirly Mon 10-Nov-14 15:32:57

Can you just say to him, 'this is getting a bit boring DS1, i think we should talk about something else now' or 'it's not nice to talk about death or killing people, please stop now' or 'I don't like hearing it, that's enough' and then you start a conversation yourself about something you find happy and not upsetting, and if he returns to the death subject you remind him 'we aren't talking about that now.' He has to learn that enough is enough, on any subject.

DC can go on and on about stuff, and even if it's just plain boring it can drive you to distraction. I can't imagine how awful it must be for you.

Ir1na Mon 10-Nov-14 16:00:06

girlywhirly That doesn't sound like an entirely good idea IMO, unless he's doing it literally all day, which I doubt! If someone's taught that death or illness are a Forbidden Subject, when they're a bit older and are upset about someone they like, they might hide it or feel it's something to be ashamed of!

jubilantia Mon 10-Nov-14 16:03:45

I think girlywhirly is spot on actually.

WalkingInMemphis Mon 10-Nov-14 16:10:44

If someone's taught that death or illness are a Forbidden Subject, when they're a bit older and are upset about someone they like, they might hide it or feel it's something to be ashamed of!

Completely disagree. 6 is plenty old enough to understand that sometimes certain topics of conversation, although they can be discussed briefly, are not ones that people like to linger on.

Ds1 is 6 and went through this phase (although not quite to this extent). I always answered any questions, but when he was just talking about it in general i'd give him a short time before just saying casually 'Yes I know, lets change the subject now please and talk about something else'.

If he asked why i'd just say 'because we don't want to talk about it all the time. Now what did you do today/what do you want for tea/etc' and changed the subject.

Tykeisagirl Mon 10-Nov-14 16:11:11

I think it's a perfectly normal phase that he's going through, but I can also see that's it's extremely distressing to you. Have you tried telling him that some people find talking about death a bit upsetting, and that you're one of those people? My DD constantly talked about cancer for a while after she learned what it was. I told her that it was fine to ask questions, but for some people cancer can be a sensitive subject so it was best not to say too much (especially in public). It took a few remindes from me but eventually she got the message.

Embolio Mon 10-Nov-14 16:11:43

I feel for you OP as I had very severe anxiety after having ds1. I wonder if your ds is picking up on your anxiety in some way or if there is something about the concept of death that is worrying him that his dad or you could talk through with him? I can remember trying to get my head round the whole concept of death at about that age and starting to worry about family dying.
I guess you already do the "oh goodness, this makes me sad to think about, lets talk about something else now ds" type response?

I'm sure its a phase although not much comfort when you are in the middle of it...

Embolio Mon 10-Nov-14 16:13:50

And, as others said, I think its totally fine to let him know it's not a subject you want to discuss endlessly.

Guiltypleasures001 Mon 10-Nov-14 16:16:43

Hi op

The fact That your child is asking all these death questions is really helpful to be honest, because some kids my son included can have such a fear of death that it really effects them.
Your son has believe it or not a healthy relationship with it which is really helpful.

With your PTSD believe it or not it might be a good thing because your continued exposure to the issue, and the coping skills you have had to employ, are really good practice.

In CBT terms your being flooded, like a fear of spiders someone gives you a tarantula to hold.

I wonder why you need specialist PTSD therapy? Any good therapist with integrative skills could help you with this.
If your psychotic episodes are seizures or fits, then this might a Dissasociative problem, which again psychodynamic therapy coupled with some CBT would help.


Thumbwitch Mon 10-Nov-14 16:19:03

It is a normal phase, although my DS1 wasn't talking about it in the same way as yours, he personalised it far more into "I don't want to die, I don't want you or Daddy or anyone to die, why can't we live forever?"

I managed to have a fairly rational conversation with him about it that seemed to calm him down at that point, but anything to do with dying now I'm shying away from slightly. We told him his grandma's dog had gone, that was a bit much, but again it was rationalised - but recently something else happened that I'm not going to type in case it upsets you and I still haven't told him because there's no actual need (not our family, a friend's family) - unless his friend says something and then I'll need to explain (difficult - I'm even dreaming about this, it's clearly bugging me)

Perhaps you can ask him to just have those conversations with Daddy because you find them too upsetting?

Ir1na Mon 10-Nov-14 16:24:22

If it's just "Don't go on about it constantly" that's fine obviously. Saying "It's not nice to talk about anything bad AT ALL, stop NOW!!" (which was what I thought people were suggesting) would make people hide their feelings.

FatalCabbage Tue 11-Nov-14 10:56:21

Some very interesting contributions, thank you. I particularly appreciate your pointing out that his is a calm and healthy attitude.

I've been deep in displacement behaviour, hence slow return.

The waiting list is not for specialist treatment (been there, done that, made things worse) but for plain CBT. Coverage here is shocking.

Thanks again. I feel more able to say when he has said enough, and change the subject.

BikeRunSki Tue 11-Nov-14 11:10:06

DS, also 6, is similar, although less extreme. I see it as part of his growing awareness of life, society and the world around him. When he engages with a new concept, he get a bit obsessed. It has been fish, Star Wars, Lego, bike riding and racing pros ..... he churns it all round in his head for a while, until something else piques his interest.

Hakluyt Tue 11-Nov-14 11:17:05

There is absolutely nothing wrong with telling a child that they are going on about something and to please stop- whether it's football, Star Wars or death.

There is also nothing wrong with telling a 6 year old that some people get upset when certain subjects are talked about and it's kind/polite not to talk about those subjects in front of them. If you were phobic about spiders, for example, you would expect a 6 year old to try to be considerate about it. This is the same.

ChippingInAutumnLover Tue 11-Nov-14 11:30:08

I'm sorry that you've had the experiences you've had, to get PTSD sad. I hope that there's someway of getting counselling sooner, waiting that long is ridiculous! Have you had any help in finding small charities that can help? Either with counselling or funding some privately?

As for DS, he is just being a normal 6 year old, unfortunately his current obsession is triggering for you. I would say that those programmes are finished now and they might be back on next year. Help him find a new obsession, if he hasn't already been through the dinosaur stage...there's plenty there to distract with, or ask his teacher what some of the others are into.

But yes, simply saying, DS enough, that's getting very boring, will do him no harm at all!

I wouldn't get DH to 'Have a word' that does run the risk of making it A big Deal.

Purplepoodle Tue 11-Nov-14 11:52:10

I would tell ds that talking about death makes you a bit sad and could he (bombard) daddy if he has any questions then steer in dh direction. My dh has PTSD and struggles with this and our 6 year old so he saves them up for me or his granny

FruitBasedDrinkForALady Tue 11-Nov-14 12:04:23

I heard a child psychologist on the radio one day answering questions about parenting. In the case he was talking about, it was a child getting upset about particular worries and wanting to talk about a particular issue endlessly, thus making the whole thing worse. His suggested solution was a particular time each day, eg half an hour after school, when the subject could be discussed, then parked until the following day. Sounded sensible to me.

Hope you're coping ok, OP and get the support you need sooner than later.

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