Supporting bereaved pre-school age children

Babies and toddlers

  • They don’t understand what death or dying means but they will have a sense of something missing if a main-care-giver dies.
  • They may be clingier, or cry a lot - signs of insecurity.
  • Feeding and sleeping routines may change.

 2-5 year-olds

  • Will not have a real understanding of death - that the person cannot come back. This leads to repeated questioning of what has happened and it is important that adults in the child’s life answer in the same way.
  • It is important to avoid using euphemisms. A young child may misinterpret words from an adult that aim to ‘soften’ the fact that someone has died.

Download our handout to find out more about supporting bereaved pre-school age children. 

Useful reading

You may also find it useful to refer to our lists of story books and books about grief in pre-school age children