We live in a world where tragedies like mass shootings, suicides, and
acts of war seem to be more common. Talking to your child about these
tragedies can be a good way to help them understand, cope, and
process these events and can help your child deal with the trauma in a
healthy way. Here are some great tips on how to go about talking to
your child about a tragedy.
Age Appropriate Honesty
Your children will hear about tragedies on the news, on the radio, at
school, and even on social media, and they will definitely have
questions. Answer those questions as honestly as possible while
remaining age appropriate.
For example, very young children should not hear about details of mass
shootings. Instead, explaining that there was a mass shooting where a
lot of people got hurt, and some people even died, and telling them
that it was very sad is enough to let your child know what happened
without over-burdening them with details that their young minds
Your child will likely have a lot of questions about why someone would
commit suicide, or what would make someone want to commit an act
of terror, or murder someone. The National Child Traumatic Stress
Network says that answering children’s questions directly is critical.
Answering their questions simply, and honestly can really open up
some great discussion about choices, desperation, getting help, and
turning to God.
Discussing tragedy is always emotional, confusing, and frightening for
many children. Comfort them by including scripture in your discussions.
Discuss redemption, forgiveness, God's Love, Heaven or the After Life,
and most of all, discuss hope with your children. This will help them to
feel calmer, and more at ease in dark times. It could also be helpful to
discuss prayer with your children, and tell them that prayer can help
others heal and that it is a great way to help those whose lives have
been changed by horrible events.
Acts of terror, mass shootings, deaths, suicides, murders, and other
dark times can make a children feel insecure. The Mayo Clinic
encourages reassuring chlldren. Let them know you love them, and are
watching over them. Let them know that God loves them and watches
over them too. Let them know they are safe in their own world, and
that things will eventually work out. Hugs, kisses, and positive words of
comfort are huge tools for calming frightened children.
It is healthy for children to understand that there is darkness in this
world. Just remember to keep it age appropriate while still remaining
honest, and remind your children of God's love, and help them
understand that they are safe with you. Children are resilient. Give
them the opportunity to grow in faith and confidence in the face of trial.