How To Talk To Your Child About Tragedy
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 cannot process. Answer Questions 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. Use Scripture 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. Reassure 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.