Seeing the pain in our world can be difficult to process, for both children and adults. The unloving, even violent acts of our people can be hard to fathom. It seems as though each day another tragedy catches our attention and weighs heavy on our hearts. How, as a parent, do we explain suffering to our children when we ourselves can’t find full understanding?

When an experience requires gentle receiving and soft guidance, consider these practices to share with your child.

First, remember: It’s okay not to have all the answers.

It is beneficial to leave space for discovery and know that not everything makes perfect sense, and maybe that is for a reason bigger than our momentary comprehension. Full explanations are not necessary for acceptance.

Offer our children and ourselves the space and permission to feel emotions.

Perhaps say to your child, “I see that you are sad, would you like a hug?” This can provide clearance to feel and comfort to be. Followed by the question, “How can we put our sad away and take out our happy?” can guide a child to discover methods to feel and deal with emotions.

In every trying moment we are offered the choice to change something or change our perspective. Feel it and heal it.

Carefully choose words and express a tone that is appropriate for the developing mind of a child.

We can provide both protection and preparation as we shield yet equip our children to receive and respond to occurrences in healthy ways. We may disapprove of behaviors, and even feel angry toward events, but choose to see other people as imperfect human beings, just like us.

We can forgive, not because we think an action is tolerable but with intention to release the hold of hurt that can block our happiness.

Bring your awareness to the good unfolding in the present.

Pain has a way of stealing our attention because it touches us so deeply. The bad may not disappear, but you will consciously not energize or be energized by negativity, but instead moved by what is virtuous. Where our attention goes our energy will flow.

Believe that even small acts of love can make big impacts.

We can start in our homes by being kind to ourselves, and share that kindness with our families. Then reach to our community being purposeful about creating acts of kindness as we live our day. And, we can trust the ripple effect, that our wave of kindness will be far reaching and infinite.

A warm suggestion to soften the sting of pain while remaining aware is to ask your child (and yourself) to look for the light. Where there is darkness there is always light.

See the light of the helpers, the people hidden in the shadows of the dark that are doing good, and being good. See the light and be the light. Know that without darkness the light doesn’t shine as bright.

And believe that the light will always outshine the darkness.