Everyone is afraid of something. Loud noises. Thunderstorms. Scary dreams. Being alone at night. Big dogs. Or afraid of something bad happening, hoping against hope it won’t.
When I was little I was so afraid of the dark I couldn’t sleep. I imagined all kind of scary creatures and faces and once woke up my dad with a scream.
What can you do to help your kids when they’re afraid?
For starters, acknowledge how they feel. If you say something like…”You don’t need to be afraid,” kids can feel like you’re dismissing their feelings, as in, don’t feel that way. Problem is, they already DO feel afraid!
Instead give them a hug and then come alongside them. “I know how you feel. I used to be afraid of _______.”
When kids are scared, they feel out of control. Like there’s this big thing they can’t do anything about. Help!
Give kids a greater sense of control over that sometimes helpless feeling with this illustration.
Here in Minnesota, fall is the time for bonfires and cozy fires in the fireplace. The more logs, kindling, and oxygen that feeds the fire, the bigger the fire gets.
When you stir up the fire,
When you feed, or stoke, the fire with logs or wood shavings or paper,
the fire grows, grows, and GROWS.
Fears grow the same way. When you feed your fears, they get bigger and bigger.
So if big dogs freak you out and you…
- Stare at their big teeth,
- Think about how awful it would be if a big dog came after you,
- Talk about how scary big dogs are..
Is that going to make you even more afraid? Of course!
How it works
What we think has a HUGE influence on how we feel. Whatever you spend your time thinking about, doing, talking about is what will grow.
Thinking about the things that you’re afraid of just makes you even more afraid.
Thinking about how loving and powerful God brings peace.
Isaiah 26:3 says “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!”
Want the fear to stop? Stop feeding the fear!!
Instead talk, listen to, and think about things that feed peace and calm and faith.
Say, God you’re so powerful.
Listen to music that reminds you how much God loves to take care of you.
Read true stories in the Bible like how God’s powerful angel protected Daniel in the lions den.
Go for a walk and see how God stretched an acorn into an oak tree or how he painted the sunset sky with purple and orange and pink.
And when it comes to the big scary dog, well, think about how strong your dad or mom is–and how much they love you and will give you the heads up if you need to stay away.
“Fix” your thoughts on God will help you feel calm and quiet on the inside. PEACE will grow.
When you start to feel scared, ask yourself:
“What am I thinking about? What am I spending my time doing and looking at?
Am I feeding fear or focusing on peace?“