How To Talk To Kids About Tragedy

It’s hard to believe.

Another terrorist attack happened in Brussels, Belgium at the International Airport and a Subway Station.

Lives were lost and many injured in these attacks.

We all understand the importance of protecting the innocence of children, especially young children.

Today, the innocence of hundreds of children was destroyed, as they came face to face with evil.

My heart is broken for the parents who lost kids today.

No parent should ever have to see his or her children die.

My heart also aches for the kids who are still alive, that lost their childhood.

How do we move on from here?

How do we talk to kids about such a senseless tragedy?

As a pastor my ministry to parents and leaders in churches, so I am going to talk to both groups of people.

For Parents:

Children Under 7 years old…

  • If your children are under 7, do not say anything to them. Do not listen to the news with young children in the room. Protect their innocence. If they ask questions answer their questions in the simplest way possible.

Children 7 – 12 years of age

  • Grade School children are going to hear what happened from their friends at school. It’s best if they hear it from you first.
  • Tell your children simply and directly what happened. If this is too difficult, put on the news for ten minutes and then turn it off.
  • It’s likely the first concern that your son or daughter will have is for their own safety. Reassure them that the people that carried out this attack are going to be dealt with by the police.
  • Look up scriptures in the Bible that deal with fear. (1 John 4:4, 2 Timothy 1:7) Let them know that you get afraid sometimes and when you do you say these scriptures and keep saying them until the fear goes away.
  • Love on your kids. Give them hugs. If they start to cry let them know it’s okay to cry, but if they don’t cry that’s okay. Don’t try to make them cry.
  • Keep your routines. Children thrive on consistency. If you have a hockey game or a birthday party to go to, then go to it. It’s okay to have fun and feel normal again.
  • Pray for the families at affected by the Brussels attack together.

Teenagers 13 – 18-years old

  • Listen more and lecture less. They may just want to talk to you. They may have some difficult questions. If you know the answer to their question, answer them. If you don’t know the answer it’s okay to say, “I don’t know why this happened.”

Here are the most frequent questions and how I answer them:

1.Why did this happen?

Answer: I don’t know.

2.Why did God let his happen?

Answer: God had nothing to do with it.

3.Why didn’t God stop the attackers?

Answer: God does not control us. He tells us the right thing to do, but He lets us make the choice to follow His will.

For Teachers and Leaders at Church

  • If you teach a pre-school class I would not say anything to the kids.
  • If you are teaching kids over seven, I suggest breaching the subject in the middle of class, possibly right after worship.

This is what I would do:

1.Ask Questions

  • “How many of you heard about the attacks in Brussels?”  (Allow for response.)
  • “When you heard about it did it make you afraid?”  (Allow for response.)
  • “This is what I do when I feel afraid.”  (Allow for response.)

2.Quote Scriptures.

Quote scriptures that deal with fear like 1 John 4:4 and 2 Timothy 1:7. (When you do this you become another voice in their life and reinforce Mom and Dad)

3.Pray.

“I’d like us to pray for the parents who lost kids, and the kids who lost parents in Brussels.”

Ask for kids to come to the front and pray for the kids and their families.

Once the first kid breaks the ice they will all want to pray.

When you let the kids pray it gives them a way to help and a sense of control.

 4.Keep Your Routines.

Don’t spend more than ten minutes on this subject.

If you are teaching on Salvation this week, stick to you program.

This will reinforce what their parents are doing and let them know that things are going to be okay.

 5.Be Available.

Let parents know that you are available if their kids just need somebody to talk to.

Keep praying for America and for those in other countries.

“Greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world.” I John 4:4

 

Mark Harper

Mark Harper

Pastor, Filmmaker and Coach, Mark Harper has over 30 years of experience in the local church. He is the creator of the Super Church 2.0 Curriculum, which is used in over 5,000 churches worldwide. The focus of Mark’s ministry is helping leaders build strong churches and helping parents build strong families.
Not only has Mark served in the local church as pastor, associate pastor, and family ministry pastor but he is also a certified coach with the John Maxwell Team.
Mark Harper

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