5 Year Old Constantly Worried About Death

Updated on August 05, 2009
D.S. asks from Whittier, CA
11 answers

My 5 year old has recently told me that he worries a lot about dying - or about mommy and daddy dying and leaving him alone. We've never had anyone close to us die, so I'm not exactly sure where this is coming from. He has always been very sensitive and emotional, but I'm just not sure how to console him with his fears. Any advise would be greatly appreciated. It tears me apart to know my son thinks about this and it that it really is affecting him.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I am very sorry to hear about this but all things happen for a reason.
We have three aspects in our lives and they all need care and growth, the mental, physical, and spiritual. The growth in these three aspects gives us balance and strength for living (and throughout our lives). This is a great opportunity for you, and your husband to 1.- get closer to your child and see what kind of TV, movies, reading material is getting into his little and sensitive head, and protect him taking the right measures. 2.- developing his spiritual life; I am sure you both have some kind of religion, and if not, is time to get it. We cannot give to our children what we do not have. 3.- keep an eye also if the child got these fears from friends or others.
Do take care of this. His mind is absolutely very important, and how you treat it. You are very important to your child in order to grow healthy. If you need help for this, get it. Just make sure is good and proper for his age....and lots of love and reassurance that you both love him. He needs to know that the most probable thing is that you are going to see him grow, and even get to see his own children, that God gave him to you because of that, otherwise he would have not been born.
I went through the same with one of my sons but a bit worse 'cause I a single mother and he hated me for quite a while and cried a lot, but things got worked out and now I am 64 years old, he is over 30, and I got no know his first child, just like I told him it would be. Now he laughs happily.
Last advice...a lot less TV programs, and a lot more family life, especially with you the mother. We mothers are very important; we give life in more than one way.(may God bless you and guide you). L..

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I think this is fairly common for this age range, when a child first "gets it" how things work... Hopefully, it is just a phase. You got some other good advice, which I think you should take, but I also strongly recommend that you shield this child from all the horrible movies (and videogames) that are out there that are all about death and macabre. The level of violence is shocking (or should be). Seriously, anything PG or PG-13 is probably a bad idea, especially until this child can reconcile their feelings. I think so many parents fall into the cultural trap that these kind of movies are OK (for any child, much less yours), just because they are so prevalent. Remember that your child is an open book until age 11 or so, and really consider what they are exposed to. If they are (and inevitably they will be to many questionable things) then discuss it with them directly as things come up.



answers from Los Angeles on

Hi D.,
I think this is the age where kids start really worrying about all sorts of things. Your son may have heard a kid at school or camp talk about it or heard something on radio or tv that just made him start thinking about this. There are some books on the subject - you can search on Amazon - that explain death to little kids but you may not want to do that unless someone actually dies. Try to keep reassuring your son and hopefully he'll get past this. If it goes on too long, you may want to ask his doctor for suggestions.

Good luck!



answers from San Diego on

You know, I actually remember the moment I realized I would die. I was about 6 years old, and my mom would put my radio on sleep mode so I could listen to music as I fell asleep. A commercial came on for a mortuary. I sat straight up in bed and yelled out for my mom. When she came in, I said desperately, "Mom! I'm going to die!" The only response she could come up with in the moment was, "you don't have to worry about that for a long time."

That wasn't soothing.

Am I scarred for life? Not really. But we do all face our mortality and it is not an easy thing at any age. I think the most important thing is that we not focus on it so much that we forget to live.

I agree with the other respondent that a child psychologist would be a good resource. You may even be able to find some info online in a search rather than paying for sessions, but if you're really concerned, go in for a consultation. Remember that both you and your son need to feel comfortable with whomever you see, if you don't, then find someone else.

Good luck.



answers from Los Angeles on

Find a good Christian church in your area and ask the youth pastor to sit down with your family and explain death. A good youth pastor's explanation should help, as the truth is we do not really die altogether but we do go somewhere when this life ends (each one of us will live forever SOMEwhere). That is the part I see missing in all of the responses. Or, if you'd like, I am available in case you want to ask questions about that - write me at [email protected]____.com and I'll do my best to give a rational, reasonable explanation of this subject (I have personally gone through the whole fear of death thing myself).



answers from Honolulu on

Hi D.,

That was a fear that came up with our first son. We do have a will (a free service thru Deborah @ prepaid legal....###-###-####). When that was a fear (he cried and cried) I basically sat down on the floor with him and gave him lots of hugs. Told him that death isn't something we control but no matter what we love him very much and he has lots of aunts, uncles, grandpas and grandmas that love him very much too and they would love to take care of him if mommy and daddy did die. But something that mommy and daddy do to make sure to stay healthy is eat healthy food and exercise because that helps us to live longer.

I hope this helps.



answers from Los Angeles on

I have a 5 year old that talks about it as well. Just the other day she said, "If I get hit by a car I'll die." Not sure where that came from. 2 of her friends where we used to live had dad's who died. I just tell her when you die we'll be in heaven with Max and Anthony's dad. I'm not sure about your faith, but there is comfort in knowing there is heaven and life after death. She's not scared of death, she's just curious about it.
I would just explain that it's part of life and everyone dies but focus it on life and living your life to the fullest and making it amazing. Good luck!



answers from Los Angeles on


How do you handle talking about death with your son when he brings it up? If you brush it aside, or poo poo it, or if YOU have a triggered response to it, then your son will feel this. It nmmight have been over all of the news about Michael Jackson dying. So many people expressed so much emotion over that.

Who knows where he picked up the fear original;ly, but now that he is talking about it, it is your opportunity to face it. (This was going to happen eventually, anyway!)

I discussed this with my 5 year old like this: sometimes we get to a point where we don;t need our bodies anymore. When that happens we are still here, we are just without our bodies. (He asked about me and daddy leaving him, and I answered:) We will always be with you, and you will know it. (He said that he wanted us to be near him WITH our bodies and I answered:) We are not planning to die until we are very old. We will be around for a long time.

The trick with all of this is to believe what you are saying. I don;t lie to my son. and everything I told him about this is my truth. Also, I don;t have a fear of dying -- if you have a fear, it might be difficult to talk about the last part convincingly, since children ALWAYS know the truth, and when we are lying about it.

I hope this helps.



answers from Los Angeles on

I would strongly ecourage you to find a child psychologist in your area. They can give you and him the tools to deal with this. He may also be able to figure out what sparked this. It may be something you or he did not realize.



answers from Los Angeles on

My daughter went through this when she was 4, and every now and then it comes up again. She would get upset and say "I'm worrying about dead again", usually at night. It seems her worry was about what would happen to her - I asked her if she was worried about mom & dad dying and she said she didn't care if we died someday (not very tactful!) but that she wanted to live forever. I assume she was afraid of what happens after death. I started telling her what different people believe about what happens after death, since I don't have any definite belief about it myself, and she has embraced the idea of reincarnation. We found a book called the Mountains of Tibet, and it is a peaceful story about an old man who dies, and he hears a voice and is presented with different choices, the first of which is whether he'd like to go to heaven or be born again. This book seems to be comforting to her. Now she and my three year old son play games where they are different animals and then they die and become other baby animals or "baby people". It is a little jarring to me to hear them play this way, but I do like the fact that it isn't something frightening to her. My father is going to pass away soon, and I hope that the fact that we've reached this point with her will make the event less scary and upsetting when it happens. In anticipation of my dad's death, I've also started mentioning when I can casually work it in that one thing we know for certain is that the people we love live forever in our hearts. If you have your own religious belief about what happens in the afterlife, share it with him in a non-scary way, and maybe it will ease his fears. If you think nothing happens, as many believe, and that we just end there and our spirit doesn't go on, I think that would be too frightening for a young child. We also told her that she is very young, and that although we don't know for certain when any of us will die, most people live a long full life before they die.


answers from Los Angeles on

my 4 year old daughter went through this. I just answered her questions honestly. She would ask me "who will take care of me when you die". I would tell her "daddy". and just those type of questions. After a couple weeks, it stopped. It did make me sad to have her ask such questions, but she was just curious. I think it's just a phase that all kids go through.

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