My child is talking about death. Is this normal?

My daughter (7) has recently been making morbid comments and seems to find them funny at times. For example, the family dog was taking a car ride with us and she commented that “if we were in a car wreck, Dog is going to die” (because the dog wasn’t buckled in) Most recently she told her aunt that it would be funny if said aunt died in a hurricane that had a name that rhymed with aunts name because it would be ironic. I explained to her that death is not a subject to joke about, and that the things she says can hurt people’s feelings. I strongly cautioned her to think about the things she’s going to say before she says it, but I’m still slightly concerned about the sort of comments she makes. Is this normal?

Sunnydays

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One Response to My child is talking about death. Is this normal?

  1. Harriet Heath says:

    Hello Sunnydays,
    The commonality between the two examples you have given of your daughter’s is that death is part of the theme. Death is not an easy topic for us adults to deal with. We know the sadness and finality that goes with death. To seven-year-olds if they have not experienced death the idea is one to explore as is so many other ideas and kinds of events in their world.
    The thinking involved in the two examples seems to be dealing with consequences. The statement about the dog is a very natural conclusion for a concrete thinker which a seven-year-old is. She has been told to wear a seat belt for protection in case of an accident. So doesn’t it follow that if the dog doesn’t have a seat belt on he is going to die if there is an accident? This is a statement of fact and a logical consequence and very typical of a seven-year-old’s thinking.
    The second statement is a convoluted what if kind of question. It itself raises questions. What were the circumstances that led up to her comment? What had she heard about the names of hurricanes? What in your child’s behavior led you to think she was finding what she was saying funny as opposed to just figuring out consequences from an overheard conversation?
    As for the topic itself, death is a part of life to the concrete thinking of the seven-year-old who will not feel the finality and sadness of death unless she has experienced it herself. It is the person who has experienced death or the adult who has the cognitive ability to grasp the reality of the topic who sees the morbidity of the topic.
    Is this kind of reasoning helpful sense to you? What do you think?
    Harriet Heath, PhD
    Licensed psychologist
    Facilitator, The Quaker Parenting Initiative

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