Remembrance Day; how do you explain it to a toddler?

Remembrance Day - Poppies_by_Benoit_Aubry_of_Ottawa

Remembrance Day - Poppies_by_Benoit_Aubry_of_Ottawa

Wear your poppy proudly and remember those that have given their lives that we may be free.

 As Remembrance Day neared, Alivia started noticing the red poppies displayed on lapels, coats, sweaters and available at most grocery stores we went to. I realized as her mind tried to process what she was seeing that there is no easy way to explain why we have such a solemn day to a 3-year-old. I have a poppy pinned to the visor in my car, a few days ago, the innocent 3-year-old voice from the back seat asked: “Mommy, what is the red flower?”. I explained it was a Poppy and it was very important. I went on to explain as gently as I could that every single day people are protecting us and keeping us safe and that many that fought long ago, never made it home to hug their families.

There are many ceremonies to attend in the Metro Vancouver Area, we will be attending the Burnaby Confederation Park ceremony as we have in previous years. We find it incredibly important to involve Alivia in these events, to observe the moment of silence and to show respect those veterans that remain with us. We don’t feel there is a need to explain death and war to her – just yet, we instead try to focus our conversations about Remembrance Day on celebrating, remembering and honouring those who have fought to make our Country what it is today.

Remembrance day isn’t just about remembering a specific war, it is to remember each and every fallen soldier who has lost their lives to protect our beautiful country and those that continue to fight each day for our freedom. For a child, that’s a big story to hear.. but hearing it is important.

A great resource for families is available at your local library and online – A Poppy Is To Remember, written by Heather Patterson and illustrated by Ron Lightburn this book helps explain the symbolism behind the poppy and Happy Hooligans shares 5 easy poppy crafts that can be used as a great starting point for the conversation. The Koala Mom shares a round-up of resources and crafts ideas to involve kids and One Crazy Kid shares why respect is important during ceremonies, you never know what little eyes are watching you as you pick up that phone during a moment of silence.

Alivia Remembrance Day Parade

If your child is part of a program – Girl Guides, Scouts, Beavers, etc your troop may be offered the opportunity to walk in a procession in your city, this is an incredible honor and we encouraged Alivia very early on to walk with her troop and be involved in the ceremony. This gave her the opportunity to meet and talk with veterans and to see first hand how many people come out to honour the men and women who have, and still continue to protect us.

Ultimately, there’s no way for me to tell you how to talk with your kids about this, as every child is different. For us, it meant exposing her to the memorials and opening the line of conversation whenever we are near the cenotaph, talking with veterans who have served, showing respect when given the opportunity and continuing to support the men and women who still serve our country. Please take a moment to observe the 2 minutes of silence at 11:00am on November 11th, reflect on the sacrifices made for our country and let a veteran know that you are thankful for them.


Tara Jensen
Tara is a parenting influencer based on the West Coast. With her full time career in health care, she focuses on green living, healthy family choices and encouraging families to live a fabulously frugal lifestyle. She lives on coffee, cuddles and post-its, generally in that order. When she isn’t working, she can be found outdoors exploring beautiful British Columbia with her family.