Do your kids fixate on morbid and sad things?


Mom? What's a difficult child?
K and N both have the most horrible "play stories"... every topic has to be about death or being abandoned.

This am- "OK Mommy you be the mean stepmom and we had no parents and you were yelling at us and making us do lots of chores"

Or- "Ok pretend I died and I am in this coffin and then everyone was sad and then I came back to life as another person or a Cat" (that is my 3yo)

"We were running away from our mean Mommy and Daddy who beat us and you found us and took us in"

It is always some fighting a monster or evil thing or death or beating... I am supossed to be excited to play with them!!!
husband and I both are like, "Why can't we play rainbows and bunnies and sunshine" HA HA

"BORING" K says, " It is just make believe Mom" But it is still unnerving by the end of the day...

They are girls for crying out loud!!! We don't watch violent things, videos games, nothing!!!
K can't even watch stinking Backyardigans without getting scared, but she will play the I am dead and abused game all day???

It is so weird... I guess if they were boys I might expect this a bit more, you know? It is everyday.


Well-Known Member
I cant remember if mine fixated on morbid. I know I do now. I am one of those people who have to read horrible news stories and they make me want to follow them to the bitter end. I also cant stop fixating on things like when 9/11 happened.

When Jamie was in the Marines I had horrible nightmares about having "the car" come to our house and tell us he was killed. I couldnt stop thinking of that during the day and thought it was a premonition. I have also recently had dreams that Cory got in a fight and killed someone. These things are icky to deal with.

I dont know how you get a child to stop that sort of imaginary play. Maybe say something about...Ok, we can play that game for xxx amount of time but then YOU get to pick the next game.


I do the same. difficult child and easy child do not. I blame myself for much of difficult child's anxiety. I worry about the worst all the time. I try to tell myself I cannot change things and we will just deal with whatever. But I do worry. If I hear siren's and easy child or husband have just left the house I worry it is them in an accident. I caught myself worrying today when I heard sirens because difficult child went somewhere on his bike. I really try not to worry so much because I know I cannot change anything by the worry. But difficult child, easy child and husband all note how much I worry.

But back to the topic..No kids don't do that.


I hope this helps... Here is some example from my own experiences.

My son, 6 years old with ODD, PTSD and Anxiety Disorder:

An ODD Experience:
"The car is going to crash Mommy. It is going over the rail. It is going down, down the hill.."
Then he says "I am going to make the car crash" and has been purposely agressive and disruptive when I am driving to the point I have had to pull over on the side of the road. Pulling over on the side of the highway was really scary--but I think I am becoming numb to fear because his behavior just seems to escalate so much.

Sometimes my son seems to want to get a reaction and will say scary things to annoy or irritate others. I think too he likes the attention.
He will take his sister's Barbie dolls and pretend he is going to kill them or will wave them in the air where she can't reach so that his sister screams and cries. The smile on his face suggests he is enjoying himself.

He has a favorite stuffed toy and when mad, he tells his sister or me that the toy "hates you". I then put the toy on a point system with rewards, like my son is on. At first he threw a huge fit and resisted--but he does play that the toy is earning points and getting treats (I made paper food, the toy also gets time to play with friends--the other stuffed animals, and listen to music).

A PTSD Experience:
The PTSD in my son will cause him to play out his fears and worries: He will play call 911 and Police are coming. He will build Lego houses with elaborate safety measures. He also plays "The Bad Guy is Coming" and practises hiding all over the house. He plays "car crash" because there was a traumatic memory in the car.

An Axiety Experience:
My son will think of really horrible things when he is scared or anxious. Some of what he says is related to past trauma and memories. But he also seems to think of the worst possible thing that could happen: getting old and having a heart attack (they actually made small kids watch the news in the hospital!, the bad guy breaking into our house, and "I'm so stupid".
I can tell he is anxious because he seems so hyper, he also is not able to talk about one thing--he is all over the place with his thoughts and words.


Hmmm.....maybe the key is that they are fighting something bigger than them - evil stepmom, death, monsters - which could be symbolic for many things. In play they can overcome these things.

I don't think it's unusual for it to occur on occasion, but as a daily activity it would give me pause.

One thought, your kiddos, especially N, are too young to really understand the finality of death. To them death may be as equal as a monster or evil stepmom - big and bad, but can be overcome.

Since redirection doesn't seem to be effective, maybe if you can direct the play so they overcome the "bad thing"...?
OK, I thought I was the only one with a morbid kid.

The other day, I caught her and the 7 year old twin girls from around the corner catching cicadas and pulling their heads off.

Also, Tink's favorite game in the entire world to play with me is done with this toy stuffed Grinch. We lay on my bed, and I make him walk along, pretending to be walking into a new town that he has never been in. He sees this sweet little girl, says hello, then she grabs him, ties his arms and legs together, and chucks him across the room.

She calls this game, "Hurt the Grinch". WTF?


Well-Known Member
If you read "The Bipolar Child" it talks about how BiPolar (BP) kids tend to focus on the morbid. Often they have gory dreams that don't stop when dreams stop in other people--ie: rather than waking up before a monster cuts their head off, the head gets cut off in the dream.
With my own bipolar, I didn't focus on gore, but I'd think about the morbid and couldn't get "bad" thoughts out of my head, at least until I started on my current medication.

Wiped Out

Well-Known Member
Staff member
difficult child has dreams like mwm describes-always full of blood. He fixates on things with blood and gore. For the longest time we didn't allow guns of any kind and he would bite a piece of toast and make it into a gun. He always fixates on getting the "bad guys". Now he has water guns and nerf ones with very specific rules on how he can use them.

on the other hand, although he tends to fixate on these things he still will play lots of other things too. Some are even rather young for him and very innocent.


New Member
Our difficult child also has the gory dreams - but despises violence, etc. In psychiatric hospital, there was one video game they were allowed to play that he refused to play or even watch because he felt it was 'violent'. I can't imagine it was too bad if they were allowed to play it in that setting, but he hated it anyway.

He does tend to fixate on what I call "worst case scenario" situations, though. He will often say things like "Do you think Grandma and Grandpa's plane will crash?" when we are expecting their flight. He has an extreme anxiety disorder and worries about everything and anything.

He too has said (begged, wished, etc.) that he could/would die - it's been a long time since we've heard that, though - and he's never had a specific plan in mind - just the abstract thought of not being here - says it would make things easier for everyone.

Hugs to you. Not an easy situation, for sure.

timer lady

Queen of Hearts
Yes, kt does this - all the time.

Having said that, while kt can play as morbid as she likes, I tell kt I can play the way I want & I want a happy family. (PCAs, tdocs & others follow my lead on this one.)

So while kt's doll family has a miserable, loud & dramatic life, I (& others) hope to model more normal happy family life experiences.

Just something to consider.


Active Member
My difficult child plays morbid as well (and easy child#2 used to but hasn't in the last couple of years). Same with Linda above, I would play with them and try to add happiness to the play. Instead of a bad ending, we'd make someone the hero who saved the day and everyone lived happily ever after. Now that difficult child is older I talk to him about why he's playing that way and why it's not such a good thing. I try to redirect him with something I think he'll enjoy that's more positive.

I have to say that when I was a child I would go to bed every night and imagine a story that was often violent and morbid. I couldn't go to sleep without making something up in my head. A lot of times the stories continued from one night to the next. As I got older (8th, 9th grade) I forced myself to make the stories more positive and happy. I knew I couldn't fall asleep without the story but I didn't like all the unhappiness and violence. I finally grew out of it sometime in high school when I felt like I was in more control of my life.



Mom? What's a difficult child?
I was thinking about this since I posted last night, MWM I do remember reading that in "The Bipolar Child" They also said that depending on how intense and gory the dreams/night terrors are they can come out in their play and talk during the day and awake hours. Which explains why some kids who have no history of abuse, violence, PTSD etc. Can have these horrible, vivid, gory thought proccesses.

So I was remebering my child hood, I was kind of the same!!! But I always attributed it to my horrible childhood, abuse, abandonment... I wonder if I would have been a morbid little kid anyway!?

I actually think it is funny at times due to my twisted snese of humor... but I realize it not the best path to be leading these kids down!

The first time N got in the little floor book case that they made into coffin, she did this whole elaborate death scene.
I was trying so hard not to laugh... and then she was re-born... a KITTY!!! TADA. But an evil kitty.

I try to let them have their fun and then we will get rid of the bad guys and defeat them, and then play nice family. They just get bored of that SO fast.
We will keep trying...
It is nice to know other women/girls are like this also!!!


New Member
Yes - I find that my BiPolar (BP)/Borderline (BPD)/PTSD?? daughter has a HUGE fascination and obsession with all things morbid and scary. She would BEG to watch the horror films (we would refuse except for a few TV-edited films), she writes poems and songs about death, and I have found her on the internet (when she was still home) playing some horrible game with falling blades. She spent one week straight watching educational documentaries which happened to be about horrific topics such as terrorists, death row inmates, serial killers, etc. She was also starting to ask her sisters to take her picture while she "played dead" and then ask them to pose as if they were dead. Once she was at a busy business office and laid down in the middle of the floor with her eyes closed and said, "I'm Dead!". Hopefully this is all related to her feeling suicidal and these types of behaviors will go away after extensive treatment. We were getting concerned because this obsession was becoming more pronounced and involving others. She is getting help at a PRTC now.

I know I enjoyed going to scary movies in high school with my friends but was never ever this obsessed with things of this nature and I even sustained the loss of a good friend at the age of 18.


New Member
Actually, not that unusual in kids. Think fairy tales -- especially the Grimms Brothers. If you think about them, stuff didn't get much more horrid and morbid. Part of growing and developing is overcoming things that scare you. Pretend play is a big part of that.

And evil stepmothers are about as common as monsters under the bed in childrens' stories (think Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty).

No matter how much we try, we can't make the world rainbows and flowers in our kids' minds. They will find a way to hear/see the stories you don't want them to hear/see. Their imaginations will find ways to scare them.


Well-Known Member
The problem is, BiPolar (BP) kids don't stop with the evil stepmother. They think about the blood, the beheading, etc. I read that it's based in the gory dreams that they have that others don't. There's a good section about that in "The Bipolar Child." A really good book about childhood bipolar, if anyone is in the frame of mind to read a true story with a sad ending (but, remember, this was years ago when treatment wasn't as good) is "His Bright Light" by Danielle Steele. Although she writes romance, she also wrote one true life story about her bipolar son, Nick Traina. This was the best descriptions of a bipolar kid that I ever read. He had it all, from the red flag s for the disorder--a father who was a substance abuser--to the first diagnosis of ADHD--to the creativity that so many BiPolar (BP) kids have (some are so gifted, and Nick was), to his inability to handle pressure that his friends could handle--but, again, this was way before they knew much about childhood bipolar. Still...I cried.


New Member
But the descriptions given here aren't gory. It is about monsters and evil things. Yes, there is a mention of beatings, running away, death and resurrection. These are all pretty typical for kids trying to problem solve their fears. Even BiPolar (BP) kids have normal fears and don't always go overboard.


Mom? What's a difficult child?
I would agree with you Meowbunny if the stories didn't go overboard as well. I didn't think I needed to validated that whether or not these were typical or not, since most of us here realize they are not. When you have a child having night terrors, with all of the blood and gore and then reliving it... it is not "typical". A 3yo screaming that a little dead boy is going to murder her waiting in her closet is not typical. Nor is the worms coming to rip your 5 yo apart in detail... I have plenty of blood and gore and just figured I didn't need to go into too much detail here...I don't think the things are all that typical that I mentioned for a 3 or 5 yo either... maybe a bit older. Or boys. Especially ones that have not been exposed to the "fairy tales", or much TV.

I appreciate what you are saying and wish my children could fit in that neat little grouping...


New Member
No, you're right, I'm sorry. I have a tendency to try to not read into people or posts. So, I went with your initial descriptions, which really were pretty innocent and typical. However, what you're describing now is very much over the top and most certainly cause for concern.

Andrea Danielle

New Member
Liam is just the same, no night terrors or gory dreams but has always been drawn to the "dark side".
He wants to be a Goth, a lot of days be wears all black and puts his hair in a mohawk with gel. He talks about death all of the time. All of his imaginary play is very violent and gory, his teacher has talked to me about it and I feel I need to justify his upbringing - no, he doesn't want bad tv shows....
He is also terrified of any of his family dying so he wants to die first, he talks about this a lot.