Helping Children Deal With Tragedy

Fear

Some ways to tell that your child may be experiencing fear are:

  • They have trouble separating from parents.
  • They don’t want to be alone.
  • They don’t want parents to travel.
  • They ask questions about safety and security.
  • They ask questions about why it happened. Can it happen again?
  • They joke or use sarcasm with fear as an underlying theme.
  • They experience nightmares or are afraid at night.

Some scriptures to share with children might include Joshua 1:9, Philippians 4:6-8, Proverbs 3:5-6, Luke 14:27.

Some things to consider when helping children deal with fear:

  • Be careful about lying to your children by saying, “It’s all okay.” Your children can see that things aren’t okay. In fact, this kind of statement can be counterproductive and cause children to feel like they can’t trust you, further increasing feelings of insecurity.
  • Explain that the world isn’t out of control and help put these events into perspective. “Some very angry people did some very bad things, but God is using government leaders to track them down and punish them.”
  • God is with us always. We can trust Him. His angels protect us. God loves us, and cares for us, and He is in charge (Psalm 46).
  • Answer your child’s questions. Explain the details briefly in clear terms, and then focus on the good that we see in God and the people who are helping.
  • The solution for fear is to learn to trust. Trust is the ability to release control to another. Children can learn to trust when they take small steps of risk and have positive experiences over a period of time. Gently encourage children to take small risks of separation, and then provide the comfort they need. During that process, children need a lot of parental love, patience, encouragement, and support.
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Toni Ridgaway is a content editor for the Outreach Web Network, including churchleaders.com and SermonCentral.com.