Death and Dying, Children’s Understanding of

For clinicians who work with children coping with death, and for cognitive developmental researchers studying how children’s thinking develops in early childhood, children’s understanding of death has been of great interest. This entry first examines what children understand about death, then examines differences in children’s socialization regarding death and dying, and ends with a summary of children’s understanding and its relation to the grieving process.

Children’s Understanding of Death

Much of the research on children’s understanding of death has been conducted from two different perspectives, a clinical one and a cognitive developmental one. Both approaches can be traced to the early work of Jean Piaget who used clinical interviews to assess children’s understanding of a large range of concepts including life and death. Children’s responses to ...

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