Infant and Child Development

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Volume 24 Issue 2 (March/April 2015), Pages i-ii, 107-214

Children's Earliest Experiences with Death: Circumstances, Conversations, Explanations, and Parental Satisfaction (pages 157-174)

Parents (n = 140) of children 2 to 7 years responded to an online survey regarding their children's experiences and conversations about death. A total of 75% of parents indicated that they had spoken to their child about death, and the majority of conversations were first initiated when children were between 3 and 3.5 years of age. Binary logistic regression analysis was used to explore factors that could predict conversations about death. Parents (n = 88) provided narratives of the explanations of death that they gave their child and subsequently reported their level of satisfaction with their explanation. The content of the explanations was coded and examined in relation to children's age and parental satisfaction. Results revealed that parents who provided explanations to a continued existence after death reported significantly higher levels of satisfaction than those parents who discussed the absence of a future physical relationship after death. Finally, explanations of a continued existence were not always in reference to an afterlife and could include discussing the memory of the deceased or their continued impact even after death. Thus, when talking to young children about death, parents may feel greater satisfaction in finding ways to discuss the continued legacy of those who have died compared to more biological explanations. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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