After the Columbine shootings and other horrific events that can raise fear in children, I wrote an article that included 24 ways to help children deal with fear. In light of recent events, this may be helpful to parents.
Coping With Children’s Fears:
- First know how you are coping. You will communicate whatever emotions you have to your children verbally or nonverbally.
- Do not overburden your children with too much. Make your discussions age-appropriate, listen and answer their questions.
- Don’t avoid talking about world events and how they impact us. This is your opportunity to present a biblical world view.
- Talk about good and evil from a biblical context. Children have been taught relativism which is anti-biblical. There is good and evil traced to two sources–God or Satan. The devil is real, his minions are real and there is a war with principalities and powers.
- Provide the hope God gives us to overcome evil through His son Jesus Christ.
- Pray for protection. Read Psalm 91 as a family, daily and claim that Word over your household.
- Engage in daily prayer times with your children. The stronger their walk with God, the more peace they will have.
- Teach your children where their confidence and hope comes from –read scriptures)
- Give your children a practical spiritual way to combat fear and worry–prayer, supplication, thanksgiving and then request (Phil 4:6-7)
- When fear enters their mind, renew it with a verse– 2Tim 1:7. Tell the enemy you won’t listen to his fearful thoughts, tell him to leave and speak the name of Jesus. Fear will have to flee.
- Keep routines and structure going. These make children feel safe.
- Encourage creative expressions of feelings though music, art, dance.
- Take action. Send letters to firefighters, supplies to the homeless,etc. Show the love of Christ in tangible, sacrificial ways.
- Reassure them that you are doing everything possible to keep them safe and that God’s presence is always with them. They can call His name anytime they feel afraid.
- Limit exposure to trauma. Exposure to graphic images can cause psychological damage.
- Share feelings at youth groups and with fellow Christians who understand how to have overcome fear, hope in Christ, and pray for spirit-led direction and protection.
- Take care of your physical body with sleep, eating well, exercise and vitamins. Stress taxes the immune system. If you are an anxious person, cut out caffeine and stop smoking.
- Be physically affectionate with your children. Touch is reassuring and makes them feel connected.
- Continual renew your mind and theirs with the Word of God. There are so many scriptures (see attached) that help us cope and trust God in difficulty.
- Practice relaxation exercises if you find yourself constantly tense. Then make time for laughter and play with your children.
- Talk about all the people who are helping and do good.
- Given all the talk about anger, you need to discuss that emotion and how to handle angry feelings. Anger is a God-given emotion but should never be used to hurt people.
- Also talk about forgiveness of those who hurt us. This doesn’t mean we agree with what they did or won’t try to stop them from hurting us more, but we can’t harbor unforgiveness in our hearts and must allow God to heal us.
- Watch how children play in the coming months. Young children tend to act out their feelings in play. You can redirect those negative feelings to appropriate responses.