Helping Your Child
Respond to Tragedy
By: Tina Sparks
First Baptist Russell, KY
Since we have had yet another school shooting to make the headline news, I thought this would be beneficial to many of our families. What was your initial response to this event? Did it create fear in you? What about uncertainty of your future? Did it make you feel afraid to continue your normal daily processes, wondering if something bad would happen to you or your family members?
Believe it or not, your children experience similar thoughts and feelin
gs when tragedy strikes. For children who attend school, the school shooting in Florida is a real fear for them. When we experience such tragedies in our nation, it’s reassuring to know that it is no surprise to God. In fact, our heavenly Father gives us words of comfort for such times. In John 16:33 we read, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. You will have sufferings in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.” In similar ways, as a parent you w
ish to protect your children from the grim circumstances that are happening in our world. However, your kids often hear of these events from their friends, in classroom discussions, or through the media before you know they’re aware of the situation. Although there is the desire to explain these difficult conditions to your children, be careful to temper details according to his age and level of understanding.
Here are a few guidelines that can make these frightening situations easier to get through with your children:
- Keep daily schedules intact. Children find security in routine. As much as possible, continue your child’s normal procedures with school, home, church, and friends. Doing this will show your child that God helps us deal with everything that comes along in our lives and that we can move forward.
- Discuss tragedies appropriately. It’s not healthy to offer unnecessary traumatic information to children. But if your child asks you questions related to the event, answer her questions as simply as possible – giving enough information to satisfy but not so much as to bring about more distress.
- Explain events on your child’s level of understanding. Even preschool-aged children realize the concept of good and bad choices. You can relate information, even that of evil behavior, in terms of people making bad choices. Remind your child that God loves all people, and that He wants us to make good and right choices in relationship with Him and to others in society.
- Offer comforting words from the Bible. Place a bookmark in your child’s own Bible where he can easily read promises that bring assurance to him when he feels unsettled about the unusual events that are happening. If he is unable to read on his own, then you can be ready to read the verses to him as well as explain what they mean. A few comforting passages of Scripture include: 1 Peter 5:7, Psalm 46:1 and John 14:18.
The next time you encounter tragedy, trust that God will help you as you seek to bring about understanding and give comfort to your children. Most often, kids find peace in homes where parents rely on God for their strength. Pray, alongside your children, for God to take care of families who are affected by tragedy and to protect your family as well.
Resource: Parent Life March 2018