Times of tragedy are difficult for everyone. We all want to think our world and environments we live in are safe, secure, and happy. However, when unexpected disasters occur we’re often left without understanding. Tragedies can be natural calamities (such as tornadoes or hurricanes). Other times, we face what appear to be untimely accidents or deaths of loved ones. Still yet, there are catastrophes caused by evil-doing. As much as we want to safeguard our children against such grim situations, they often hear the news events from friends or through the media. As always, parents need to temper explanations given to children according to the child’s age level of understanding. Here are a few guidelines that can make these tragic situations easier to experience with older 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.
- Discuss the tragedy as your child brings it up. It’s not healthy to offer unnecessary traumatic information with 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 upset her more.
- Explain malicious events in words your child understands. 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 choices. Remind your child that God loves all people, and that He wants us to make good, not bad, choices in relationship to Him and to others in society.
- Present comforting words from the Bible. Place a book mark in your child’s own Bible where he can easily read Bible promises that bring assurance to him when he feels unsettled about the unusual events happening.