Because of their age and their different little personalities, different children will react differently to the events in Indonesia. There’s no need to purposely expose your primary school age child to these incidents, but if they have questions or look concerned about watching or hearing about it on the news, then check in with them.
Explore what it is they know and how they are making sense of the information they have taken in. Do they know what has happened? Do they understand it? Do they want you to try to explain it? If so, you could try something along the lines of….
Different people have different things that they think are important and different things that they believe in. In Indonesia they have a rule and they believed that these men broke it. The men went to jail first and were sorry for what they did, but the boss of the country wanted to send an important message to the world about the rule. He believed that the rule was so important, that he should take their lives away. Other people and other countries may not agree with the boss of Indonesia and that is why there is so much news about it.
Don’t be concerned if your child does not have any more questions. They have a different world view to yours and they probably want to know more basic things once their questions have been dealt with – like “what’s for lunch?”
If your child wants to know about drugs and what they are, you could try something like this….
There are lots of plants and chemicals in the world that we use to help us or to have fun. Some are safe and some can be more dangerous. Some people know a lot about chemicals, like doctors and farmers, and they use them to help others and grow things. The chemicals that people use in their bodies are called drugs. Because some chemicals or drugs can be dangerous, the bosses of the country make rules about them to try to keep their people safe. Some drugs are allowed and some drugs can get people in trouble with the Law.
If your child has more questions and you cannot answer them, suggest that you do some research together to find out. Ask your child to think of who you could ask or talk to who may know more. For some, this might be someone at school or it maybe someone at Church or it may be someone who they know who has travelled the world.
Others may feel sad about the men dying. Sadness is also perfectly okay in this situation. Do not force or cajole your child, but if your child would like to use their sadness in a way that could help others then you could explore some options. Your child may like to make a card to send to the family of the men who have been killed. They may want to draw a picture or give someone a hug. It can be helpful to make ourselves feel better by doing nice things for others.
Of course, if your child is distressed about the events,your usual ways of comforting do not seem to be helping, and the distress is lasting for a number of days, then be sure to get some advice from a mental health professional.
For more resources to help you talk with children about death, your school librarian can assist. You might also want to keep a copy of “Life is Like the Wind” handy, too.