The Boogeyman, the monsters under the bed and the hideous looking clown from a friend’s birthday party – they’re all so scary. Especially for a little mind that isn’t capable of distinguishing real from make believe.
Most children struggle with fear at some point or another. They are afraid of the dark, afraid of insects, afraid or pets, afraid of their own shadows. Fear happens. And whether or not the object of their fear is real, the fear they feel is definitely real. Just as real as their momma’s fears.
A couple weeks ago we released our first book. It’s FREE and it’s called, Facing Our Fears- 31 Stories From M.O.M. and it was written to help moms deal with the fears they face and find freedom from the bondage of fear.
But we realize that children struggle with fear, as well. So The M.O.M. Initiative not only wants to help moms face their fears, but we also want to help moms help their children face their fears too.
So, how do we help our children deal with fear?
1. Realize that not ALL fear is bad and that some innate fears help children remain safe
- Babies often are afraid of strangers. That’s not a bad thing while your in the process of helping them distinguish who is and who is not a trusted friend.
- Toddlers tend to fear being separated from their parents. Not a bad thing when little “Johnny” thinks about wondering off in the mall.
- Elementary age children often fear the unreal…things like monsters and the Boogeyman. A great way to teach them to define what is real and what is not real.
- Older kids often fear traumatic, real-life events, like being caught in a fire or having a disease. These types of fears may help them behave in a safe manner and think about choosing a healthy lifestyle.
But not all fear is good and certainly, any fear that mutates into something irrational or begins to form a phobia must be dealt with quickly. When fear exists beyond what is typically age-appropriate fear, then it’s time for a little fearless intervention.
2. Handle the fear before the fear begins to handle your child’s heart
- It’s important to put what is is they are afraid of into perspective without minimizing their fear. In perspective, if their fear is something like, play dough, then you can compare that to another fear they may have of something much more significant to help them see play dough may not be as scary as the Boogeyman and certainly not as scary as a big dog. This enables them to begin to see whether something they are afraid of really is fear-worthy.
- Fill their hearts and minds with the Word of God. Give them verses that combat fear. 2 Timothy 1:7, Isaiah 41:10, Psalm 56:3. Go on a little journey through the Word and look up verses you can tuck in their hearts that deal with fear and the promise of God’s presence. Let the Word of God become the filter for their fears.
- Equip them with the mental tools to distinguish real from unreal. A big dog is real. The Boogeyman is not. Perhaps you could use a technique my son used on his daughter. When one of my grandgirls was afraid of monsters under her bed, he asked her if they were real. She said she didn’t know. Then he asked her where she saw a monster under the bed. “On T.V.!” she replied. My son then asked her if everything on television was real. Is Woody real? “No!” Is Spongebob real? “No!” Then, are monsters real? “Uh…ummm…well NO!” Okay, then. You don’t need to be afraid of what you know is not real. When she was able to understand she was afraid of something that didn’t even exist, she no longer feared that there were monsters under her bed.
- Don’t feed their fear. If they are afraid of bees, don’t freak out when a bee comes near. Help them face their fears, not flee from them.
- Watch what they watch. Images are like branding irons burnt into our minds. It’s so important to monitor what they watch. You may be watching something that is perfectly fine but then a commercial for a horror movie comes on and the image your child sees is now etched in that sweet child’s memory. Even commercials can instill fear in the hearts of your children so what they watch.
- Make them laugh. Fear fizzles when the laughter begins. If you’re tucking them in at night and you begin getting their mind off of their fear and onto the funny story you tell them, their mental focus shifts and they are no longer thinking about that which they’re afraid of. Children need to learn to take their thoughts captive and until they can do it on their own, it’s your job to help them learn how.
- Never let them see you sweat. Many children are afraid because you are. They fear what you fear because you have transferred your fear to their little hearts. Be careful to not allow your fear to become theirs.
We all face fear. Some fears are legitimate, so are not. All must be dealt with in order for us to find freedom and fully become who we were created to be. Fear can paralyze us and prevent us from moving forward in our lives. That is true for you and it is equally true for your children.
We wrote Facing Our Fears – 31 Stories from M.O.M. because we all deal with fears. If you haven’t received your FREE copy of it yet, please subscribe to our website (by email) and we will get it right out to you. It was designed specifically for moms to use individually or for mentors and moms to use together. AND we’d love to hear from you if you use it alone or with a mentor!
It will help you face your fears so you can help your children face theirs.
What are your children afraid of now? How have you helped them overcome their fears?
Today, we’re linked up with TIME-WARP WIFE!