Everyone, from the youngest child to the oldest adult, experiences anxieties and fears at one time or another. Feeling anxious in a particularly uncomfortable situation never feels very good. However, with children, such feelings are not only normal, they are also necessary. Dealing with anxieties can prepare young children to handle the unsettling experiences and challenging situations of life.
Young children can get spooked by just about anything — the dark, the wind, or even a favorite stuffed animal. Or they seem to sail through a real frightening situation, only to become afraid of something days or weeks later. No matter how scared your child gets, childhood fears are usually nothing to worry about. They are normal emotions that help your children figure out how the world works.
Take a deep breath and try to understand why your child is afraid. Some other ways to handle fears are listed below:
- Let your child know that you take their fears seriously.
- Give your child truthful information on topics such as death or war, and let them know you are willing to answer any questions.
- Encourage your child to confront the object of their fear, such as dogs, one step at a time at their own pace. For example, perhaps start with pictures, then try a very small, gentle dog that is tied up, so the child decides how close to get.
- Allow your child some control. For example, if they are afraid of intruders, make shutting and locking their bedroom window one of their night-time responsibilities.
- Daily routines and rituals give a child a sense of stability and security, and may ease general anxiety.
More than anything, help them understand God’s love and care. Read these verses below and think about how you can convey the bottom line principle to your child the next time they are afraid;
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
There is no doubt about it. Life can be scary at times for children. We cannot keep our children from everything they fear—nor should we even try, but we can help them learn ways to be brave. It is an important step to growing up.