Helping Children Overcome Fear
We are all fearful of something from time to time — especially since COVID has become a recurring pandemic! Did you know we are born with only two fears: the fear of falling and of loud noises? Every other fear is learned through experience — ours or someone else’s. Studies have shown that up to 90% of kids ages two to fourteen develop at least one specific fear: animals, the dark, imaginary monsters, the loss of a pet or a loved one. And again, there are the constant reminders everywhere that we are in the middle of a global pandemic. COVID-19 is a very real fear that children face every day.
Being a ‘Life Model’
As Christian parents, how can we best help our kids learn to overcome their fear? Children learn about life and how to respond to it first from their parents, then from the world around them. Stop and consider what you are teaching your child through your own behaviors. We cannot give to our children what we do not possess. Our ability as parents to impart true faith begins with us knowing and showing our faith in Christ Jesus. We are the “life model” our children are watching.
Knowing God and His Son intimately can help your child overcome a fear they may be facing. A child’s capacity to grasp the reality of God is much greater than we might think. Scripture tells us that we are born with an innate sense of God’s reality and an inkling of what He wants from us. (Ecclesiastes 3:11; Acts 17:26-28; Romans 1:19, 20)
You can help your children understand God by nurturing their natural sense of wonder. Read Jesus stories with them. Share the miracles he performed and the people he healed. Talk to them about his parents, brothers, and friends. Read the Christmas story to them over and over. The more real Jesus becomes to them, the more they will trust a Heavenly Father they cannot see.
Listen, Acknowledge and Affirm
When your child expresses fear to you, pay attention. Listen, acknowledge, and affirm the reality of their fear. Always be at eye level with your child and maintain a calm and reassuring voice. Never pretend you are not afraid of things that you fear. Don’t try to talk your child out of an irrational fear — it is real to them! The key is helping them learn how to think about that fear and overcome it.
Teach your child how to examine the thought that makes them feel afraid. Have them identify if it is a fact or a feeling. Look for evidence to support or disprove the idea. Teaching your child to be wise and brave and analyze their fear will help them in other areas of their lives, including their faith. Equipping them to handle their fears instills confidence and courage; it is a vital part of their education and sanctification.
What Parents Can Do
Help to reorient your child back to their position in Christ. Say a blessing over your children. Speak a Scripture and insert their name to make it personal. Share with your children some mistakes you made as a child and what you learned. Also, tell them how you overcame a fear you had as child. Kids need more than to hear you speak God’s Word to them. They need to know from your life how real it is.
Read stories to them about kids who master their fear. Teach your kids relaxation skills. Acknowledge and encourage them whenever they are courageous. Praise your child when they face their fear and tell them how proud you are of them. This will help equip them to tackle future challenges.
Remind your child that God did not give us a spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control. He repeatedly promises in the Bible to always be with us: “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go.” (Genesis 28:15). “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.” (Zephaniah 3:17). And be sure to take care of yourself as a parent. Emotionally and spiritually healthy parents are key to helping a child come to know, love, and serve God.
I hope you find these suggestions helpful. In my Christian children’s book, I’m Not Afraid, your child will understand how praying to Jesus will help them turn their fear into faith. In our animation episode, “Scaredy Crab,” the Sea Kids learn faith can overcome their fears!
Lee Ann is the host of the 2021 award-winning solo podcast, Raising Christian Kids, which can be found on all major platforms. She is an award-winning Christian children’s author and Executive Producer of the book and animation series Sea Kids, which can be viewed on Trinity Broadcasting Network, Pure Flix, Right Now Media, and purchased Sea Kids TV. Lee Ann received a bachelor’s degree in Biblical and Theological Studies from Regent University, a master’s degree in Theological Studies from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Trinity International University), and two master’s degrees from Knox Theological Seminary in Biblical and Theological Studies and in Christian and Classical Studies. She is also an adjunct professor at South Florida Bible College and Theological Seminary, teaching Apologetics, Romans, Ministerial Ethics, Prison Epistles, and The Bride of Christ.