3 Steps to Help our Children Overcome Fear
T-shirts, coffee mugs and book titles, all shout out this little line. Let’s get honest, though. Being brave isn’t as simple as saying a cute quip. Culture, from social media to news updates, feed fear; an inflicting, distressing emotion surfacing when facing possible danger, evil or pain.
We know God does not want us, or our children, to suffer from fear, whether real or imagined. He tells us in 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” (NLT)
Let’s look at three ways, that as parents, we can teach our kids to overcome fear.
1. Normalize failure.
Whether you are a child or an adult, the fear of failure can loom over us all.
We can lessen this fear by teaching and demonstrating to our children that when things don’t go right, they are not failing, they are learning! Failure is to be expected; it is one way we learn and grow. Failure can actually be good!
Regularly share your own failures with your child, so they can see you fail at times too. Look to history and God’s word for stories of famous people who also failed before experiencing success. When your child can see failure as part of the process to becoming who they want to be and even a gift from God to teach us, they can become fearless.
2. Narrate a worst case scenario.
“What ifs” swirling in a mind of a child can be paralyzing. What if our dog runs away, never returning? What if someone invades our home? What if I fail when I try out?
Narrating a worst case scenario sounds like it would give fear more power, but when you discuss with your child what she would do if her “what ifs” came to pass, you empower her to face it. Walk her through how your family would handle your dog never coming back, how your family protects itself from intruders or what she would gain by trying out, even if she doesn’t make it.
Jesus promised us “in this life you will have trouble.” (John 16:33) Mentally walking through trouble before it occurs gives your child a sense that with the Lord beside them, they can get through whatever comes their way.
3. Nail down God’s Word.
Research tells us that our brain thinks approximately 60,000 thoughts a day and 80% of those thoughts can be negative! We need to teach our children to replace negative, fear-filled thoughts with the truth of God’s word.
Hebrews 4:12 says God’s word is sharper than any two-edged sword; just the powerful weapon we need to fight fear.
Routinely go over God’s word with your child, not just in times when fear is present, but also when it is not. When we go over God’s word over and over again with our child, this powerful tool is lodged in their heart and mind, exactly where the Holy Spirit can retrieve it when your child is facing a fearful situation. On the playground, during the math test and at the softball plate, the Holy Spirit can bring scripture to mind right when they need it most.
When my son was taking a karate test, I would hold up both of my hands so that he could see all ten of my fingers. Those ten fingers reminded him of our ten-word prayer: “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:13)
We can’t stop fear from creeping into the hearts of our children, but with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can teach them what to do when it appears.
Lynn Cowell, www.LynnCowell.com
Lynn Cowell is a Proverbs 31 speaker and the author of several books, written for women of all ages. Her newest book for young girls is Brave Beauty: Finding the Fearless You as well as the women’s Bible study Make Your Move: Finding Unshakeable Confidence Despite Your Fears and Failures. Lynn calls home North Carolina, where she and her husband, Greg and the occasional backyard deer are adjusting to life as empty nesters. Along with their three adult children, the Cowells love hiking, rafting and anything combining chocolate and peanut butter.
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