Many kids have fears about certain things like losing their favorite stuffed animal, the "monsters” under the bed, or being afraid to jump off the diving board at the pool.
Fear is normal, but when kids have fears around more significant issues like a bully at school, divorce, death, or worry about what will happen in the future because of what news headlines they're seeing or overhearing, it's our job as parents to guide them through what they're experiencing.
When kids are afraid, we may simply tell them there's nothing to be scared of and everything is okay. But the reality is that fear is a big emotion that's hard to comprehend, let alone expect our children to navigate it well.
As parents, we want our kids to feel safe and happy and lean into God when they struggle.
Here are some healthy ways you can help your child overcome their fears
Pray before you speak with your child. Ask God for compassion and understanding. Their fear may not seem like a big deal, but remember that kids are experiencing things for the first time and may not have the tools to cope with their feelings. Ask for the right words to encourage and not create more anxiety
Allow your child to elaborate on why they're afraid by asking open-ended questions, like:
- What happened that is making you feel this way?
- What else was going on around you when this happened?
- What emotions are you feeling right now?
- What do you think is going to happen?
Validate your child's fears and accept their emotions. Assure them that their fear matters to you and that it matters to God.
Share age-appropriate stories of times you were afraid. Share how you overcame that fear and what you learned from it.
Facilitate encouraging conversations with siblings and shut down any comments that make fun of your child's fear.
Focus on what's true
Help your child list everything they know is true about the situation. Documenting what is true will keep them from fixating on their fear.
Remind your child that God doesn't want them to be afraid, but to have courage and trust that he wants to help them.
Pray together that God will give your child the courage to overcome their fear:
Dear God, thank you for never leaving us even when we are scared. Please help _______ to remember that you love them and are always with them. Thank you for loving us and always wanting what is best for us. Amen.
Start a Bible reading plan on God's protection or memorize verses together. Some good poems to start with are Isaiah 41:10, Joshua 1:9, and Philippians 4:6-7.
Ultimately, the best way to help your child overcome their fear is to model prayer and trust in God when you are struggling with fear in your own life. We can't make it all the better by being afraid for our kids. Instead, we can trust that God will make everything right in his timing. If you're going through something challenging during this season of parenting, we'd love to hear from you and pray for you!
If you're interested in more parenting resources, check out:
1. Top Christian Parenting Resources
2. Helping Your Kids Process Difficult Events