Pets often become members of the family — they have been around for many years, rejoice at our arrival, we take care of them, they amuse us and sincerely love us. But the lifespan of most pets is much shorter than human life, and sooner or later we face loss. The departure of a friend is especially difficult for children. How can you help your child deal with the death of a pet?
speak the truth
Many parents hide the death of a pet and generally avoid saying the word, delaying the moment when the baby learns that no one lives forever. Many say that the pet ran away or that it was given to another family where it is needed for some reason. Such versions will only cause new questions and emotions that will be more difficult to live.
The departure of a loved one is an occasion to talk about the inevitability of death. Unfortunately, sooner or later, everyone will have to face this. Perhaps the current situation will help the baby to endure the next ones more easily — he will learn to understand and pronounce his feelings, react with minimal damage to the psyche.
If the pet died at the veterinary clinic, do not say that it was put to sleep — choose another word so that the baby does not associate death with falling asleep. This can cause new fears and negativity.
Be as candid as possible, but be consistent. Think about the conversation and choose the words.
Experience emotions with children
From the age of 4-5, children perceive a pet as a friend, a playmate. Most often, they do not need detailed causes of death of a pet, but support and empathy are urgently needed. It is often difficult for kids and even teenagers to express what is in their hearts in words. Help your child — show empathy, use active listening, encourage conversations and be there. Grief is a healthy response, as is empathy.
Most likely, there will be more than one conversation — consult a psychologist if necessary. Do not forbid the baby to grieve, do not force him to suppress his anger — make sure that there is no one’s fault that the pet died. Speak out what happened and live through the situation with your child.
Do not hide your emotions from your child. Observing that you are not indifferent to what is happening, he will calm down faster, will be ready for dialogue. Empathy is essential for both living the situation and developing emotional intelligence. So the baby learns to recognize what others feel, to show empathy. But at the same time, try not to fall into despair or panic — someone has to be an adult and that someone is you.
Turn with your child for support to other people 1 relatives, friends. The ability to survive difficult times not alone will come in handy more than once, and not everyone succeeds in learning this. Especially the skill of asking for help is necessary for older children and adolescents who are not always ready and able to pronounce their emotions and feelings.
If it’s hard to start a conversation…
… turn to art. Cartoons, movies, and books are great ways to prepare for a tough conversation. In magical stories, animals are endowed with human traits and characters, they experience the same emotions as we do. Heroes of animated and feature films also live through grief and joy, setting an example for kids and giving them behavioral models. Funny little animals are easily perceived by children, attract their attention. Watch Bambi stories, The Lion King and All Dogs Go to Heaven. Their heroes face the death of loved ones, learn to live with it, they grieve, then move on. Watching together will help prepare the child to talk and understand that death is possible and inevitable.
Books can also be an occasion for discussion — both the very fact of death and how to survive the loss of a pet. So, many people know that the popular writer Daria Dontsova loves pets very much, several pugs live in her house. And when the very first dog, pug Mulya, died, it was a blow to everyone. Mulya was not just a favorite, but a member of the family. And not for the first time, having turned to the proven way of living grief and fears, Daria Arkadyevna began to write a fairy tale story about the Beautiful Valley — a place where pets go after death.
This is how a cycle of children’s fairy tales by the famous writer Daria Dontsova appeared, who has already written several books about how the animals of the Beautiful Valley go to a special school, where they learn a lot of new things in order to return to the human world and become the guardians of their owners. Animals, similar to real children, live through many situations — comic and tragic, helping each other and young readers to live similar lives.
The story continued. Readers began to write to Dontsova, talking about their departed pets, naming them — this is how new inhabitants appeared in the Beautiful Valley, and people who turned to the writer received support, learned that they were not alone in their trouble.
Recently, in the Tales of the Beautiful Valley series, a new book, The Cure for Kindness, was published.
The loss of a pet is a real grief. Many people are afraid to get pets, knowing that death will trigger a gamut of strong emotions. But they also need to learn how to live, because death is as much a part of our life as joyful events, which will become much more with the advent of the house of a new inhabitant. If the baby learns to understand and manage his feelings, it will be easier for him to endure similar situations in the future.