Is this a normal phase of development?
DD lately has been talking a lot about death, dying, heaven, and God...she's also not just talking about it but making it a part of ALL her imaginative play as well. For example last night we were playing pretend and she said "Pretend you are the sister and your mommy died and now you are all alone and she is in heaven. I'm God and I will show you the way to heaven." And then she went off on a tangent on how the mommy got sick and died and everyone was sad, etc. If she's playing Barbies / horses / trolls / etc., someone is always dead or dying or sick.
We do go to church every week so it makes sense she is curious about the religion part, but we aren't really sure what we should do / how to respond to her when she is pretending these awful / sad scenarios!
Any tips or books would be much appreciated!
blogger / pomelo / 5361 posts
At various times in the last 8 or so months (between 3 1/2 and 4), both of our twins have talked some about death, heaven, & God. One was particularly concerned and would say things like, "I don't want to go to heaven because I would be alone." Neither have ever incorporated it into their imaginary play, but both have talked about it and had phases where they seemed pretty focused on it. From what I can tell, it's normal. I think they start having a very small degree of understanding that people die and if you're religious they start having a tiny grasp of some of what you're saying, so they start talking about it more (and playing it out makes sense to me, too) to try to work it out in their heads a little bit.
I'm not sure what I would think would be the level where it goes from normal attempts to understand difficult concepts like mortality, God, etc., and where it becomes a valid concern. I think as long as nothing has happened (lost someone close, etc.) and it doesn't seem to be affecting her on a deep level (depression, anger, overwhelming fear), I would be too worried about it. Not sure if that's any help or not, but we just kind of tried to talk with them as honestly as was age appropriate when they said something or had a question, but also be reassuring and try to not emphasize it too much. Neither one is saying much about it right now, so I think they've worked through it for now but expect that they'll have more of an interest again later when some new concept regarding death, religion, etc. comes up.
blogger / pomelo / 5361 posts
Also, have you ever just gone along with it to see what she says? Like when she says, "I'm God and I will show you the way to Heaven," I would be kind of curious to let her play through that scenario and see what she says and does. It might give you some insight into what she's thinking about and maybe open a door to answer some questions she has.
eggplant / 11824 posts
I think (hope!) that this is a normal developmental stage because my 4.5 is going through it as well – minus the God part because we are not religious. There is a lot of talk about death and questions about death from LO, and similar imaginative play. LO never met her great-grandmother but mentions several times a week about how she misses her great-grandmother but knows that her GG is still with her and watching over her; and then asks me if I think GG is in the car/wherever with us, etc. LO talks a fair bit about spirits generally. We went to a church recently on a tour and LO asked at every statue and painting if the person was dead, and how they died (including Jesus, lol awkward). She also sometimes does this with people on TV, etc. She “worries” (I don’t think it’s a true worry, if that makes sense) whether or not I or her father are going to die, and asks me a lot about that too.
I’m not sure what any good resources are; I hope others will have some insight.
pomegranate / 3375 posts
Totally normal!!! We aren't religious, so the God piece isn't a topic in our home, but at 3, she asks a lot of questions about dying.
We don't sugar coat topics like this - we obviously tailor our answers to an age appropriate place, but we do answer her questions. If she seems sad that our pets are going to die, we just say, "Yeah, they will die someday. I can see why that makes you feel sad. Hopefully it won't be for a long time." - by acknowledging it, she seems to move onto the next thing pretty quickly.
grape / 99 posts
This obsession is completely normal. When our dog died and DS was almost 4, we talked at length about dying, and how everyone dies. You could tell he wanted to know if Mommy and Daddy would die, but was too afraid to ask, so I just explained that people die when they are old enough to be great grandparents, so he will be a pop-pop and have enough family under him to not need me anymore. This isn't 100% guaranteed, so I kinda lied.