Editor's Note: In the aftermath of the terrible tragedy that happened to Leiby Kletzky, here are some strategies in speaking to your children and helping them deal with tragedy.

While tragedies should always be dealt with on an individualized basis, it's important to discuss a few general steps that can be taken.

1. Keep G‑d and Judaism in the picture. Following the sudden death of a young girl, a local synagogue held a program to help congregants deal with the loss. The rabbi kicked off the evening by saying, "For tonight's presentation, we are going to take G‑d out of the picture and focus solely on how you are coping emotionally." Some assumed that his concern was that a philosophic discussion might hinder sincere expression of emotions. But many community members were looking to the rabbi for spiritual guidance and support at this critical time, and left feeling worse than when they came in.

Utilize some of the "teachable moments" that result from a traumatic event (serious illness, injury or death). For example, you can accentuate the outpouring of kindness and prayer surrounding the incident.

In the rush to help children focus on the positive, be careful not to inadvertently ignore or trample their feelings. Make sure that they have the opportunity to give vent to their feelings. Assure them that their responses are normal, even if you see that they have not yet become spiritually "moved" by the moment.

2. Trying to change someone's mind at all, let alone following a traumatic incident, can be a difficult task. One paradigm shift that can be quickly implemented, however, is through slight changes in our wording. "Grieving Community Transforms Dinner into Joyous Honoring of Boy's Life" read the headline describing the Annual Five Towns Chabad Dinner which took place as scheduled a day after Rabbi Wolowik's son's unexpected death. The caption said it all: while sincerely and painfully acknowledging the "grieving," try to balance it with a focus on "community," "joyous honoring," and "life."

"Our community has been hit with another tragedy" translates into "Oy, this is dreadful. How can we cope with yet another incident?" The same words, with a slightly different inflection, become, "Our community has been hit with another tragedy"—yes, our closeness intensifies our hurt right now, but ultimately, unity will carry us through these trying times."

3. Compartmentalize. When I grew up, one of my favorite comic strips was Lil' Abner by cartoonist Al Capp. One of the characters was Joe Btfsplk, a young man with a small, dark rain cloud perpetually hovering overhead.

When traumas accumulate for a person, he or she may feel like hapless Joe, with everything gathering together to form this impenetrable personal cloud that refuses to go away.

Years ago, a number of schools and communities were hit with illnesses and losses within a relatively short period of time. Many perceived these incidents to be occurring on a monthly basis. When I went to a yeshiva for a crisis intervention on the last week of the school year, the deceased's classmates could hardly talk about him. Many were too overwhelmed by the veritable whirlwind of cumulative trauma that they were experiencing. "Who's next?" was the recurring theme.

Help children to gain perspective. The sky is not falling. "Everyone" is not getting sick or dying. Validate the emotional fear while simultaneously appealing to the intellect. Yes, tragedies do seem to be occurring with inordinate frequency, yet the incredible majority of people are healthy and well. Philosophically and statistically, you have every right to assume that it is not going to happen to you or your family.

Please note: that does not mean that you can minimize any of the pain experienced by those impacted, or that philosophic implications for self-improvement should be ignored.

Also, the battle between intellect and emotion can be a tough one. This approach can often prove easier said than done.

4. Normalize and universalize children's reactions. Children may fear that they are weird or crazy due to their reactions to trauma. Assure them that their experiences are normal and shared by many (while being careful not to minimize the uniqueness of what they are going through). As the psychiatrist/author Dr. Viktor Frankl (a Holocaust survivor who wrote the seminal work, Man's Search for Meaning) observed: "An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal."

Dr. David Pelcovitz, an internationally renowned expert in trauma and loss, often discusses the coping traits of "attenders" and "distracters."

Recently, one of my sons had some blood drawn at the pediatrician's office. He made sure to watch the hypodermic needle the whole time. When I asked him about this, he responded, "Of course I looked. It's my arm and my blood, so I wanted to see what was going on!"

An attender feels more in control by observing and talking about the circumstances. On the other hand, distracters will discuss sports, the weather, the number of tiles on the ceiling. They will do crossword puzzles or play Sudoku—basically, anything that keeps their minds off of the situation at hand.

Studies show that trying to change a child's coping style can actually trigger the opposite of the desired effect, causing them to handle the situation worse than they normally would have.

5. No man is an island. Simon and Garfunkel once sang, "I am a rock, I am an island." Not only does that not ring true for most people, the mere idea of "going it alone" is downright scary for children.

One reason that younger children often repeat their questions is to "wrap their minds" around what has happened. They may also be craving assurance that they will be okay. Explain to them that, "Our family shares together in all important things that go on. You are okay now, and will always be cared for."

In addition to sincere verbal assurances, provide hugs or supportively put your arm around their shoulders. Point out the concrete measures that are being taken to ensure health and safety. "Doctors/EMTs/Police are doing x, y, and z. Now we will be going to this place. Tomorrow we will do this."

Be careful not to make blanket promises that nothing bad will ever happen (now or in the future), but do not expound upon dire possibilities.