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We kept a hamster in our house and my daughter liked it. She was very gentle when holding it. She had a really happy time with the hamster. But this week the hamster died when she was playing with it.

Right before the incident her mother was in the kitchen and I was distracted by a message. (Now I really blame myself for not paying attention when she was playing with the hamster). My daughter first came to me, cried, and told me she was bitten. I rushed to help my daughter to clean her wound. I also noticed the hamster was struggling on the floor and dying. Her mother then came in and stayed with her. I went back to our hamster. It was already dead. 

I thought that the hamster bit my daughter and she might drop it on the floor in a sudden due to pain or fear. The hamster might have hit its head then, and that caused the death.

We tried our best to support our daughter. This is the second time she was bitten. Fortunately this time the bite is slight.

However, we start to realize something a bit later on. Our daughter refused to tell us what actually happened. She avoided any related topics. Unlike the previous time, she did not ask for any bandaid. I don't know what actually happened.

My questions are the following:

  • How to help my daughter to feel better? I can feel she is sad.
  • Is a 4 yo ready enough to understand what death is? Is now a good time to touch that topic?
  • I would like to also guide her to understand that life is precious and we should respect it. On one hand I want to treat that topic seriously. On the other hand I want to be considerate about her feelings. Should I start a conversation?
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    Do you think she might have had a causative role in the hamster's death? If you suspect so, you need to pursue this, as until she discusses what's really troubling her, your attempts to reassure her will likely fail. Feb 8, 2023 at 17:44

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My daughter helped deliver kittens from a pregnant cat when she was that age. Unfortunately out of 7 only two were alive. This was the perfect time for her to start to learn about death in my eyes. When I was that age my mom let me check out a book called Babar from the library for her to read to me. Unfortunately Babar or Babar's mom dies just like in Bambi. Dying is a part of life, without it nothing new can happen. If nothing dies there is no room for anything else to live. The circle of life as in the lion king may help teach her too.

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