Stop, Look and Listen
If your children express concerns or worries, stop what you are doing, look them in the eye and listen to what they have to say. In this way we can communicate an authentic concern for them and for their feelings.
Set Aside Time
Being intentional about making time and space for children to process their day is important. Family devotions can include a time for children to share about their day. Asking "What are we grateful for?" and "What made us worried?" can be incorporated into the conversation and then lifted in prayer.
In fearful times we may be inclined to say, "There is nothing to be afraid of" or "Don't worry, it will be okay" but these statements may not always be comforting. Fears and worries are very real for children. While we may not be able to fix things, we can make space for them to talk about what worries them. Asking "What is making you worried or afraid?" may open an important conversation. Offering to lift their concerns in prayer is one way of helping them to see that God is also listening.
Model Healthy Coping Skills
Children look to adults for guidance. We can teach them ways to cope with stress like pausing to breath deeply. We can help them find ways to step back like taking a walk or doing something they enjoy. We may not be able to change our circumstances but we can learn to change how we respond to them.
Jesus entered the lives of people who were fearful, worried, grief-stricken and rejected. When children came to him he welcomed them (Matthew 19:13-14). When Jesus encountered the sorrow of others, he too expressed sorrow (John 11:33-35). When Jesus felt the weight of his ministry, he retreated for prayer (Matthew 26:36). We can model this compassion for our children as they face difficult times. Jesus has promised to be with us always. We experience this presence of God in many ways, especially through the love and care of others. This is a gift we can share with our children every day.
Peace, Deacon Nancy Wagner
For a faith formation activity about fear go to: