It’s amazing the things people fear, and there are times when we can be downright gullible. For example, several weeks ago, many Facebook users bought into the rumor that suggested you could simply post a legal notice on your account in order to protect your copyright or privacy rights. And how many of you avoided drinking Coke and eating Pop Rocks at the same time because you didn’t want to die like the LIFE cereal kid?
The thing is, we’re not called to a spirit of fear. Here are three tips you can use to help them deal with their fears.
1. Take them seriously. Kids.govhas a fantastic article which explains to kids the falsehood of the Mayan doomsday, as well as some great tips for parents and leaders on helping kids deal with any kind of fear. The first tip is to take their fears seriously. Instead of telling kids that they are being silly and dismissing their fears, help them educate themselves so they can overcome their fears.
2. Identify their fear. Sometimes you just know when something is bothering a child, even if the child doesn’t straight-out tell you. Wes Fleming, an expert on ministering to families, encourages children’s ministers to help kids identify their fears. In an article he wrote on the subject, he suggests asking open-ended questions like, “What’s going on? What are you feeling?” rather than questions like, “Why did you say that?” or “Why are you acting this way?” which can make kids hide their feelings. After the child has opened up some, speculate about what the child is feeling to encourage even more sharing. For example, ask, “Are you afraid? A lot of children feel afraid when they see scary pictures or hear scary things on TV.”
3. God is our shield. Kids can have legitimate fears that cause them to worry. Here is a fun game to play that can help kids understand that God protects us. Originally intended as a game to be played before Halloween, this idea can be used anytime. Ask kids to name things that people fear. Then explain that God is our shelter, using Psalm 91:1-10. Have a child dealing with fear be “It.” Half the children will use their bodies to make a shelter to protect “It,” and the other half will try to hit “It” with paper wads. After two minutes of play, stop the action.
Ask kids the following questions: How do you think “It” felt in the shelter? How easy or difficult was your job of protecting “It”? How did your shelter compare with God’s shelter that Psalm 91 tells us about?
We have all fallen for scams or rumors. Luckily, we serve a God who is the truth. How do you help kids overcome their fears? Have any of your kids talked about the so-called Mayan doomsday? What do you do when a parent has fears? Share with us in the comment section below!