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How I Used The Story Of The Titanic To Introduce The Concept Of Loss To My 5 Year Old

Posted: February 11, 2018

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Teaching kids about tragedy, violence and other disturbing things in the world becomes simple though books, like here with the story of the Titanic.

Reading the story of the Titanic with my son

Was for both of us a brand new lesson

It was a book written for a preschooler

With simple sentences and many pictures

Not different from his other books in that sense

But it was a story viewed through a very different lens

For my five year old, an introduction it represented

To tragedy, death, misfortune- everything I had prevented

Him from learning about so far, considering his young age

While reading his disappointment grew with each page

As he realized what collision with an iceberg meant

He had tears in his eyes when down the ship went

When he realized that little girls and boys had to be

Separated from their fathers, who drowned in the sea

He closed the book and in a sad voice said to me

I hate this story, I hate the iceberg in the sea

That made the ship sink and people die

Why did this bad thing happen, mommy, tell me why?

I tried to tell him how bad things sometimes happen

So we learn from our mistakes, don’t repeat them again

Of course he is too young to appreciate the dark irony

Of the unsinkable ship sinking on its maiden journey


That set me thinking, when is it appropriate

To introduce children to tragedy, when to state

Unpalatable facts as they are, how to explain

Tragic events-historic and current, in language plain

In today’s world our children are exposed

Through various media, to a significant dose

Of news- at times disturbing and  violent

That we cannot always screen as parents

Talking to a five year old about these things

Is not easy, a lot of questions it brings

Forth from the child, for which there are

No perfectly satisfactory answers, by far

I thought this book was the perfect segway

To discussing more serious topics every day


I realized my son was growing up fast

His innocence was not going to last

This book marked an important transition

From fantasy to real life, this was a graduation.

Published here earlier.

Header image is screenshot from the movie Titanic

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