2 to 6-year-olds understand death as something temporary and reversible.The notion of personal death is not present. Death is seen as something that only happens to others.Animals or persons that are dead are seen as broken and can be fixed, or asleep and can be awakened, or gone and will be back.4-6-year-olds who are well developed often think about, and are curious in, death and want to see and touch dead things.
2 to 6 Years of Age
9 to 12 Years of Age
- A clearer understanding of death begins to develop from 6-8 years.Children begin to be curious about the physical and biological aspects of death.The child’s concept of death is very similar to adults by age 9.They know death is not reversible or temporary. Death is thought of a “ghost” figure.
6 to 9 Years of Age
12 Years of Age through Adolescence
A child’s perspective of death is different from an adult’s perspective. As a child grows and matures his/her perspective of death will also change. It is important for adults to know how children conceptualize death at different ages so when the time comes and they are faced with death (of a loved one or pet) the adult will know how to respond accordingly to their developmental age. The different age groups are a representation of the different developmental stages and are not meant to be exact.
Child’s concept of death expands.The awareness of personal death is now fully developed.Curiosity develops: “What does the body look like?”, “Is the blood blue?”, “The body stiff?”, Cold?”Even though there is a cognitive awareness there is a strong tendency towards denial.Increased interest in what happens after death.
Death is viewed abstractly and subjectively.Strong egocentrism and a tendency to think of themselves as immortal.Death is seen as something easy to deal with because of TV and movies.There is much objective philosophizing about death.