In the last century, decreases in infant and child mortality, urbanization and increases in healthcare efficacy have reduced children’s personal exposure to death and dying. So how do children acquire accurate conceptions of death in this context? In this paper, we discuss three sources of children’s learning about death and dying, namely, direct experience of death, parental communication about death and portrayals of death in the media and the arts. We conclude with recommendations about how best to teach modern children about this aspect of life.
This article is part of the theme issue ‘Evolutionary thanatology: impacts of the dead on the living in humans and other animals’.