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Helping Children Process Another School Shooting Tragedy

It’s happened again. How can we fathom news about another deadly school shooting? Precious children’s lives are lost. Families are mourning. We all grieve.

Especially as people who love and serve children, this news hurts. A lot. What can we do?

First, let’s grieve.

We mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15). And so many are sad today. Together, let’s lift our teary eyes to Jesus.

Jesus knows what it’s like to cry. To suffer. To endure brokenness. So, friends, let’s pause and sit with the King of the universe and feel sad and mad and helpless and hopeless with him. It’s okay to just sit and grieve with Jesus. He is with us, grieving, too.

Then, when we’re ready, let’s remember that Jesus gives us hope and that someday, sin and sadness will be gone forever.

In the wake of this tragic event, we want to help you as you help children and families process sadness and grief. We hope this free devotion for children and their families will encourage their hearts—and your heart, too.

Then, with Jesus’ help, let’s help kids process what has happened.

1. Let’s PREPARE.

We don’t need to be experts on the latest news, but we do need to be aware of what’s going on. That way, we’re able to stay calm and correct misinformation children may have heard.

2. Next, let’s ASK.

Ask simple questions to gauge children’s age-specific understanding of what’s going on. Open-ended questions help create space for children to share what’s on their minds, so you know how to help and comfort them. For example:

  • What have you heard about what’s happening?
  • Where have you heard these things?
  • What questions do you have?

3. Then, let’s help and COMFORT.

There is much we don’t understand, and yet truth remains. Share those facts in simple, kid-friendly language. You don’t need to be an expert, just reassure children with truth about God and the situation at hand. For example:

  • It’s true that people were hurt and children died.
  • You are safe with me now.
  • I am with you.
  • God is with us.
  • God is in charge.

The Bible offers help and comfort, too. So, let’s point children to truth from the Bible to help us navigate feelings, find peace, and pray for people in need. For example:

  • “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you” (1 Peter 5:7).
  • “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7).
  • “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.” (Romans 8:26-27).

4. Next, let’s PRAY.

Together, talk with God about it. For example, you could pray something like:

“Dear Jesus, we need you. Please bring peace to this scary time. Comfort people who are sad and scared today. Thank you for your presence with us right now and thank you that you are with people everywhere. In your name, amen.”

5. Finally, let’s PLAY.

Play? Yes, play. Play does not trivialize the situation or distract from what really matters. Rather, it gives children a much needed way to de-stress and cope with difficult circumstances.

Pull out a board game. Go swing on the swing set. Kick a soccer ball around. You may find that kids want to talk some more as they continue to process feelings and information. Or you’ll find they’re ready to move onto other subjects and discoveries.

As you play, you’re showing kids that sadness and happiness sometimes exist together. You’ll find that smiles and joy are good for your heart, too.

Let’s help and comfort children when they need it the most.

Kids need help and comfort. Times of conflict and crisis affect children near and far in big and small ways. You can’t promise that nothing bad will ever happen, but you can point them to Jesus, the Rock they can depend on. Thank you for being Jesus’ hands and feet as you shepherd children through scary and difficult times like these.

For more tips on helping children with trauma, check out the Trauma Toolkit: 4 Things You Can Do To Help Kids Heal.

For other helpful tips, check out this resource from the Fred Rogers Institute.

7 thoughts on “Helping Children Process Another School Shooting Tragedy

  1. Stephanie Clauson

    Could you please send me emails from you?

    • Sierra Archuleta

      Hi Stephanie, it looks like your email is already subscribed to our Children’s Ministry weekly newsletter and our Children’s Ministry marketing sends.

  2. Jason Tade

    Saying prayers throughout the day with others will help. Don’t stop praying. We can go from totally afraid to totally faithful. You can go from totally afraid – to totally faithful.
    My enemies pursue me all day long, for many proudly assail me. 3 When I am afraid, I put my trust in You. 4 In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust. I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?…
    Jason Tade #mibwot

    • Sierra Archuleta

      Great words of wisdom Jason! Thanks for your input during this terrible tragedy. Prayer really does help.

      • Jason Tade

        Once the tears have dried up, and you have said your goodbyes, what is left is the beautiful and happy memories that you shared with your babies. May you find comfort in the memories you shared with your child, family member, friends and please accept my sincere condolences. We love you and GOD loved you more! Jason Tade

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