How to Help Your Child Deal with the Death of a Family Pet

For most kids, their family pet is often their first best friend. The warm and open nature of the animal allows the child to shed their inhibitions and be playful around them. As such, it can be very difficult for them to understand what they’re feeling and what happens when a pet passes away. However, there are a few things you can do to help your child deal with this sad event.

Communication

If your pet is older and no longer very active, it’s probably best to talk to your child before something happens to your beloved family friend. But it’s not so easy to convey sad news when something unexpected happens.

It’s best to be truthful about your furry loved one. Telling your child that your pet went off to live on a farm creates confusion (why can’t we go see him?) and, eventually, when the truth is revealed, could break a trust that could be hard to win back.

It’s important to tell your child about the animal’s passing in a safe and personal setting. Ideally, you will want to choose a room that is free of any distractions such as television sets or mobile phones. This safe and distraction-free environment will allow the child to fully focus on what you are saying and will give them the freedom to respond in an open and honest way.

Help children understand what they’re feeling

Your child may not know how to process their grief at first. They could get moody, irritable, even angry. As their parent, you need to tell them that it is okay to feel the way they do. It’s also good idea to make sure your child doesn’t feel guilty or responsible for anything that happened to your pet. Explain that these things happen because animals don’t live as long as humans and sometimes can’t fight sickness as well as humans can.

Show your child healthy ways to cope with these strong emotions. This will not only provide them with a way of dealing with their current pain but will also give them the tools they need to deal with any problems that may occur in the future.

Create a memorial

One of the best ways for your child to fully understand and deal with their pet’s death is by creating a memorial. This can come in the form of a collage or even a short video. Though you should be there to help them along the way, you should try to let your child take the lead on the project as much as you can. This will allow them the opportunity to create a memorial that is truly special and personal to them.

Losing a family pet is never easy for a child. However, by following the tips and advice outlined in this article, you can ensure he or she is able to deal with the grief in a healthy way.

Parent Resources

Don’t have a pet? Check out this Parents.com article on the benefits of having a pet. Who doesn’t love a puppy?

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