As children grow, they become inquisitive since their brain is developing. They do not understand anything and often depend on an adult to guide them and help them understand any unexplainable phenomenon. They start weighing in on issues such as loss and pain. They observe as people mourn their losses and the central question that these children ask is why people suffer. It is essential for them to have a grip on reality at an early age and this calls for one to help the young understand the concept of suffering. In this case, some stories are available for reference as they help the reader understand this concept. Therefore, to help children understand why people suffer, a story such as Tess tree by Jess Brallier and Peter Reynolds would be relevant.

The concept of Suffering

Children need to understand that suffering is a way of testing a person’s endurance. A child may only understand pain as the only indicator of suffering. Therefore, the adult should make the child realize that even though an individual may not be exhibiting any forms of physical pain, they might be suffering psychologically. There is no need to introduce any philosophical ideas. It is easier to use examples such as how one feels when their friends lie to them or when their pets are ill.

The story of Tess is one perfect example that would befit in such a situation. The antagonist loved a tree where she used to swing and pick leaves during the different seasons of the year. She grew attached to the tree, but the tree did not last long. A storm led to the cutting down of the tree consequentially hurting Tess as she no longer had a place to confine. She viewed the tree as a friend and cutting the tree made her sad. She was suffering. She lost something that she held dearly over the years. However, she held a memorial for the tree and through this experience she learned the importance of appreciating what she had at that moment. Suffering helps one understand what they had and acknowledged that there were times when things were better. Tess suffered this loss, but she held on to the memory that she had with the tree.

Such a story is relatable to children who are at the age of four and above. These are individuals who have attachments to their toys and probably clothes and suffering to them is probably having their toy spoilt or taken away from them. One story that cannot explain this is Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare. The story is a little bit complicated and the children may have trouble interpreting the concept of love, family conflict and how this can lead to suicide. The story is very mature for their age and might confuse them.


The reason behind human suffering is a broad topic that philosophers try to explain, but their interpretation depends on their current environment. When teaching this to children, it is vital that one uses objects or concepts that are relatable to children. A good example is the story of Tess and the tree. The story shows suffering as understood by children and that makes it worthy to use as an example. It shows that suffering makes people appreciate what they have and also realize that nothing lasts forever. Pain is a life lesson, and since Tess decided to hold a memorial for the tree and share good stories about it, it shows her ability to focus on the teaching rather than the pain. The book is not complicated and gives a clear indication of how to handle pain rather than grieve and be depressed in any given situation as any young child can relate to it and understand why anyone would suffer.