Helping Children Process Tragedies

Date: May 3, 2023

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Romans 12:15 NIV


It shouldn’t happen. But time and time again, tragedy is touching the lives of our children.


Processing natural disasters like earthquakes or storms with children is one thing but comforting them in the face of horrific tragedy at the hand of man is altogether different. Parents and adults in kids’ lives need to help kids think through what they experience and see in our communities or on media, says veteran educator Sherry Worel. Here are five ways Worel shares to help children process tragedy:


Speak words of comfort: You can remind them that Jesus knows and cares for us all. Tell them Bible stories of His love and compassion. Pray with them throughout the day. Memorize and quote scripture together and fill your home with music that shares the same thoughts.


Slow down: Don’t try to mask the heartache with a frenzy of activities. Distracting children from intense sorrow might be a good thought but amping up the pace of life is not. Sit quietly with them, read a book…play a quiet game.


Answer their questions: Answer honestly, but with only enough details to satisfy their developmental readiness. Assure them you can keep on talking about the event when they are ready.


Allow for grief and mourning: The Bible instructs us to…”mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15 NIV). Just hold them and cry with them. Ignoring our hurts is never a good idea.


Physically be near: Express your love and comfort physically…share lots of hugs—even junior high boys appreciate a side hug. Be the first face they see in the morning and last one they see at night. [1]


[1] Worel, Sherry. “Helping Children Process Tragedies.”, 31 Mar. 2023,