Death of the Family Pet

Helping Your Toddler Deal with Grief

The death of a pet is often young children’s first experience with death and can have a lasting impact on them. How you guide your child’s adjustment to the loss can teach him the way to face future losses of loved ones.

First, if your pet is a beloved member of your family, don’t minimize the importance of the event. Real sadness and mourning are perfectly appropriate, and permitting those feelings will help everyone adjust.

Your child is not yet old enough to understand that death is permanent. Expect questions or statements that seem to indicate your child believes the pet will return sometime or is living somewhere else. Be honest and gentle in your explanations that the pet has died.

See also ...

•  Toddlers and puppies: Making it work

•  Helping your child understand the loss of a pet

This message is not intended to provide individual medical advice. Always seek the advice of a physician or qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have about your health or medical condition, your breastfeeding issues and your infant's health. Never disregard, avoid or delay contacting a doctor or other qualified professional because of something you have read in our emails, webpages or other electronic communications.

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