Helping Children Deal With Tragedy


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

  • They talk about or act out revenge.
  • Their play becomes more aggressive and mean.
  • They have more frequent or intense angry outbursts.
  • They use violent words or actions especially pointed toward the terrorists.
  • They demonstrate an unusually bad attitude.
  • They are easily angered and have a short fuse.

Some scriptures to share with children might include Romans 13:1-4, Ephesians 4:26-32, James 1:19-20.

Some things to consider when helping children deal with anger:

  • Being angry isn’t wrong. In fact, anger identifies a problem. Seeking revenge is wrong and turns the angry person into an ugly person.
  • It’s more productive to move toward sorrow than anger in many cases. You may even use the current events as an example, “These people who did this are deceived, angry people and have done terrible hurtful things. We don’t want to use anger to get back at them. It’s very sad when people deliberately hurt others.”
  • The job of government is to provide justice and punish those who do wrong (Romans 13:1-4). Individuals are called to love enemies and pray for them (Romans 12:17-21). Older children especially need to understand this difference between revenge and justice. Revenge is when individuals seek to get back at someone. Justice is when an authority punishes those who do wrong.


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

  • They cry or are lethargic and appear sad.
  • They appear depressed or withdrawn.
  • They have an inability to experience joy or happiness.
  • They have a loss of appetite or seem unmotivated to do anything.

Some scriptures to share with children might include 2 Corinthians 2:3-11, Psalm 46, 91:15, and Psalm 23.

Some things to consider when helping children deal with sadness.

  • Look for ways to help others. Serving, comforting, and giving help children to become part of the solution instead of wallowing in the problem. Be creative by giving money, time, and energy to worthy causes. Sadness often causes a person to become self focused resulting in self-pity. Contributing to solutions helps children get outside themselves and can be very therapeutic.
  • A child who responds to tragedy by becoming sad is likely to be a sensitive and compassionate child. These are good character qualities and should be encouraged, but when children become overly introspective, they may lose their ability to help others.
  • Pray for government leaders, our president, victims, and families.
  • Allow children to grieve. It’s okay to be sad and mourn over current events and the pain behind the scenes.
  • Be ready to talk and look for ways to draw your children out through questions, stories, and just observations of what you see in their behavior.
  • Remind children that God also is sad when people sin and hurt others (Ephesians 4:29-32).
by Dr Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN

This article is posted in cooperation with the National Center for Biblical Parenting.