How do preschool-aged children understand death?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 18,441
    Parenting educator Dr. Rene Hackney talks about how preschool-aged children understand death.

    Rene Hackney

    Originally a full-time preschool teacher, Dr. Rene Hackney now holds a Master?s in school psychology and a PhD. in developmental psychology from George Mason University. She trained at the Developmental Clinic at Children?s National Medical Center and for the public schools, teaching in parenting programs at each. She has also acted as a consultant to several area preschools.

    For the last four years, Dr. Hackney has owned and lectured for Parenting Playgroups, Inc, a parenting resource center and preschool classroom in Alexandria Virginia. She has offered workshops to a wide

    range of parent, teacher and social work groups during this time.

    Workshop topics include eight hours on positive discipline techniques, five hours on early academic issues and common issues such as sibling rivalry and potty training. All workshops provide well researched lecture, in-class practice and open discussion time. Additionally she hosts a monthly parenting focused book club and fun play programs to introduce the preschool setting to young families.

    Dr. Hackney is married and has two young children of her own.

    Host: How do preschool-aged children understand death?

    Rene Hackney: Preschool age is that three to five year old transition, where they are starting to understand that death is more permanent that death is something that happens to everyone. They also may though, three to five years old have much still the fantasy reasoning, where they think that people may die because I was mad at them or people may die because I didn't liked them.

    So, there may be an overwhelming sense of guilt for young children because they don't understand that death is not their fault, whenever you have a preschool aged child and there is been a death in the family or death at someone near, it's a good idea to let them know they have nothing to do with it, it was not their fault, even if they are not asking those questions because they still just tend to be so egocentric.