How to help children overcome a pet death

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Philippe Gloaguen
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Source: Pixabay

The loss of the animal that has always been seen running around the house or in the cage for the little ones can be a decidedly traumatic event: however, there are some strategies to make the situation more bearable.

1. Don't lie

do not for any reason conceal the evidence of the facts:

Glory Borromeo



slowly prepare the child for detachment


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2. Leave room for feelings

3. Design a farewell rite

There is no need to hide your feelings and behave coldly: "When we give the children the news of death, let's not minimize it and let's not behave like superheroes at all costs: let's show our feelings without fear and give him the space to cry and get angry. Let us make him understand that we too are sad ».

3. Design a farewell rite
Another aspect that should not be underestimated is the farewell rite: "Bury the bird or the dog, abandon the fish to the current of the river: you choose the gesture you prefer, to be done together with the little ones. The important thing is to symbolically close the circle at the level of direct contact and open that of memory. From now on, in fact, it will be possible to retrace the good times together ».


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4. Place the animal in an afterlife

When explaining to the little ones the concept of the loss of the puppy of the house, they must be kept in mind differences in perception of death at various ages: "At two years of age, the only thing a child perceives is that there is a bit of stress at home - explains Dr. Borromeo - up to 5 years of age, then children do not have the idea of ​​death as something permanent, but in reaction to pain they have regression behaviors (for example they pee in bed, even if they had long since overcome this difficulty) ».

The hard part comes later, but there are ways in which mum and dad can be of help to the children: "After the age of seven or eight, your children will begin to ask where the animal is: for them it is It is important to give a physical location to the place where it is located. Here the explanations can be given according to the values ​​of each family, but the indication valid for all is that they must be great places: for those who do not have much imagination, there are fairy tales that can help. It is also nice to try to imagine the activities that the puppies are doing in the enchanted place: you can ask the children if the dog is playing with his favorite ball, or if he is digging a hole as he always did in the garden ".


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5. No to the substitute immediately

The furry playmate should not be replaced immediately: «The rule" if you break one toy if you take another one "should not apply. We wait for the child to ask to have another animal: if they have had a good contact on an emotional level, they will not ask for it immediately ".

6. With teenagers

For those with children teens, the question of the death of a furry friend must be approached with more caution: «With adolescents we must be careful because the disappearance of the animal could activate all thoughts of death in them, which may concern parents or friends. For this reason, we must not be afraid in addressing this topic with them, should be treated with an open face being careful not to be held back by their ghosts (one of the greatest fears of a parent is to die and leave the child alone) ». The good times spent with the puppy with the teenagers are easier to share: "The boys are able to independently create the space of remembrance: they also help themselves with very modern means such as putting the photo of the missing animal in the background of the mobile phone".

  • animals and children
  • 3-5 children years
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