Fear….afraid…..scared….frightened….worried….anxious….terrified! As adults we can relate to fear—the symptoms, the causes, even the cure. How can we guide our children through the forest named Fear? Here are some ideas:
Before talking about fear, arm yourself with prayer. Talk to God about your own fears and ask him for guidance to help you address your children’s fears.
Work with your anxious child to identify the fear itself—what exactly is your child worried about? When you pray with your child about fear, be honest in naming what is scary. Thank God in advance for how he will handle the fearful situation, how he will protect your child, and for how he is more powerful than anything we know.
Tell your child stories from your past of when you were anxious—how did you feel, what did you do, what happened? Tell Bible stories of people who were afraid but still trusted and obeyed God. Gideon was fearful every step in his walk with God, but whenever Gideon was afraid, he told God. Memorize Bible verses about fear together. Try Psalm 34:4 (I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.) or Psalm 46:1 (God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble) or II Timothy 1:7 (For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power).
Tell stories of failure and of mistakes and of difficult situations, but also tell what you learned from failure, how failure is not the end of the world, how it is okay to make mistakes and fail. Talk about courage, about taking risks, about stepping up to do the right thing. Talk also about cowardice—of not responding to the challenge of doing the right thing.
Talking openly and frequently about fear, about failure, about courage will plant seeds for your children to use when facing their own frightening situations. Being honest about fear prepares them to face their fears. Demonstrating how to turn to God for everything—including fear—with thanksgiving, teaches our children how to turn to God. That’s the best outcome we could ask for!