Death Play

Death Play

What Is Death Play?

Death Play is when children play at death or dying. Parents and caregivers can be uncomfortable with such play because it seems gruesome or inappropriate. It’s not the type of play that pops to mind when adults think play.

This type of play, however, is a popular theme in sociodramatic play and rough and tumble play. Death Play allows children to deal with the complicated topic of death from within the safe bounds of their play. It offers a chance to play with the emotions, language, and cultural practices surrounding death. Often, such play also helps children grieve the loss of a pet or loved one.

Instead of banning such play, adults should work through their discomfort and find ways to offer support.

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Jeff Johnson is an early learning trainer, podcaster, and author and the founder of Explorations Early Learning and Playvolution HQ.


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