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Have we had this one? - playing games about dying

(13 Posts)
binkie Sat 15-Jan-05 12:54:23

Just wondering how others deal with this. Ds is 5, dd is 4, and they play together I think unusually nicely - get into detailed imaginative scenarios, co-operating well, don't need anyone to referee their play. But I'm just overhearing "yes, and I died, and then I came back to life again, and then you died" "no, you were only sleeping" "no, I really died, but then I did come alive" (etc).

What do you say, or would you intervene at all? I tried something like "let's not talk about dying" or "you do know that death means something is finished, don't you?" but they weren't convinced. (By the way, they haven't any immediate experience of people/animals they know dying.)

amynnixmum Sat 15-Jan-05 12:58:07

If they are not asking you questions and don't seem upset by it I would just leave them to it. They probably dont really understand what death means, particularly as they have no experience of losing someone they know. If you try to explain it further to them you run the risk of making them worried about death and dying.

Twiglett Sat 15-Jan-05 12:58:33

ignore it .. why shouldn't they play about death .. its surely a part of imaginative play .. after all they're not really superheros either

and disney videos have death on them (lion king etc) so they'll have picked it up somewhere innocuous

I think its harmless

lowcalCOD Sat 15-Jan-05 14:07:39

ooh yes we haev had htat at about that age I htink
lot s of work on "popel who help us" at preschool I think

IloveMarmite Sat 15-Jan-05 15:10:18

WE have had a million "death" questions following a) the tsunami and b) my grandfather's death on NYD. I decided that it was better to be totally honest, without being too brutal, which I guess will lead to games about death.

Lonelymum Sat 15-Jan-05 15:37:10

This must be a phase children go through as mine went through it at a similar age. I thought it was becuase ds1 started school and our route to school crosses the village graveyard, but I have heard of many other children talking about death at this age so maybe it is to do with their development.

I agree with other posters, don't worry about it. Death is a fact of life and it is healthy for children to explore it. I didn't like my children cheerfully saying to me, "Mummy, when you are dead..." or worse, "Mummy, when Grandma and Grandad are dead..." meaning my parents. I told them I didn't want to think about it, but I think the fact that they were talking so freely about it was good for their understanding and also showed they didn't really understand what death meant.

SofiaAmes Sat 15-Jan-05 17:35:09

I think it's fairly normal, particularly for boys, around 4 or 5. My stepson went through it around 5 (asked incessant questions about how many people would die if a really tall building fell down, etc.) and now my ds (4) is asking questions on a daily basis about when I'm going to die and when his grandmother is going to die....I don't think they really have any idea of what dying means, it's really just a thing like going to the store.

kid Sat 15-Jan-05 17:50:50

DD has been spoken to about people dying, her cousin died and we tell her she now lives in heaven, (she didn't die recently).
The other day, DD was writing a list of people that had died . The list didn't contain people that had really died, in fact it didn't even have anyone I knew on it. It must be an age thing, DD is 6 (today )

binkie Sat 15-Jan-05 20:45:21

Thank you all; wise words. I won't try to intervene, then, unless they ask me directly.

Very interesting about it being typical of the age.

roisin Sat 15-Jan-05 21:15:29

DS1 has had 3 different periods of obsessing about death. The first was when he was 3. The latest was last summer, when he spent about 36 hours beside himself with worry - sobbing his heart out, not eating, not sleeping etc. He told us he just couldn't cope with the idea that one day he would no longer exist ...! He told us that he had tried to talk about it to a friend at school, but his friend didn't understand what he was talking about ...! We were so concerned we went in to speak to his school teacher, but then it all seemed to suddenly go away.

We try and talk about death in a matter of fact way, and hope he doesn't worry too much. An additional difficulty is that dh and I have strong Christian beliefs - including a belief in an after-life. But ds1 currently does not share our beliefs at all, so doesn't have that comfort.

I've just been reading a book on the joys of creative and independent thinking, and philosophy ...
What about the disadvantages?

binkie Sat 15-Jan-05 22:02:01

Roisin, that must have been so distressing for you as well as your son - I am sorry. It puts my concerns rather in perspective, as I was worried they weren't taking the idea seriously enough, & now understand I should leave well alone.

Slinky Sat 15-Jan-05 22:08:16

In the summer, my 3 were out in the garden. DD1 was on her bike and had an "accident". DS1 was the ambulanceman, and DD2 was the nurse. They were running around "trying to save DD1s life".

I came out into the garden to discover DD1 laid flat out on the grass, DD2 and DS1 standing around her. When I asked what they were doing, DS1 told me that "she'd had an accident, very badly hurt and she died". They were standing around as it was her funeral!

I must admit, I did leave them to it. DD1 does have "issues" with death, about her dying, us dying and "what will happen after she dies?" etc, but I tend to not raise the subject until she does, which is every now and then.

Ellbell Sun 16-Jan-05 20:23:12

Really interested to see this thread. I am relatively new to MN, and hadn't looked here before. My DD1 (4.5) became very interested (if that's the right word!) in death after our (extremely old) dog died in November. She was very upset about the dog (despite not having been very keen on him beforehand - he was nearly blind, deaf and in pain, so not great company for kids, bless 'im!) and wanted to know lots of painful details about what had happened to him, but eventually resolved the matter with herself by saying that 'he has gone out of the world' (which seemed as good an explanation as any). I later overheard her telling a friend that 'when you die you don't ever get better'. But recently she has also been including death in games a bit. She is hugely imaginative and is always playing 'pretend', which I have to go along with (usually I am a teacher and our house is school), but last week she announced that I was her teacher and she had come to live with me because her mum and dad had both died ! I was a bit horrified, but then I realised that she wasn't really imagining life with me 'out of the way' because I was still in her game, but just as Mrs X, the teacher! So I just suggested that she might like to pretend that she had just gone to stay with her teacher for a few days while her mum and dad went on holiday or something. It was a bit of a shock though. DD2, who is nearly 3, is completely oblivious (no obvious reaction to the dog dying either).

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