Anxiety seems to be part of this world, and it is especially high as the coronavirus spreads across our country. Children are particularly vulnerable during times of uncertainty because they have less control than adults. With schedules interrupted and a sense of fear permeating families, they can feel off balance and scared. Here are five tips to help your children regain a sense of peace in the midst of this current storm.
Turn Off the News.
Or at least turn the volume down, watch it behind closed doors or take time to explain it to your kids. Newscasters are coached to lead with the most provocative and intense headlines. Their job is to hook people into tuning in longer and more frequently. Scary statements and images can lodge in children's heads. So be aware of what you're letting them see and hear.
"… my friends, fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable." Philippians 4:8
Check Your Own Anxiety Level
Children pick up on our fears whether we express them or not. As we face this time of uncertainty in our country, it's important to be honest about our own feelings, yet also protect our kids from raw emotion. If you feel yourself spiraling out of control, give yourself a timeout. Breathe. Rest. Journal. Pray. If you can settle your own anxiety, you'll have a better chance at calming your child.
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7
Make Time For Connection.
Slow down and listen to your children. Allow them to share their concerns and provide words of reassurance and comforting hugs. Do something special together: bake cookies, color together, roast marshmallows, play a board game, write cards to the elderly in your family or neighborhood, anything that brings joy. Children feel nourished when parents or caretakers are engaged and present.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. John 15:12
God gave us His word to comfort us in times of confusion and fear. Choose a favorite passage of the Bible or several verses that speak to you when you are feeling uncertain. Here are a few that can be especially calming:
“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
“My peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23
Pray With Your Children.
Our Heavenly Father wants us to lay our burdens at His feet, and it's important to teach our children to do this. We can pray for and with our kids, sharing our own fears and uncertainties, and modeling how we let them go. We can cry out, list our worries one by one, recite The Lord’s Prayer together or say a simple phrase such as “Please watch over our family.” What’s most important is that we remind our children of God's great and enduring love for us.
“Give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever.” Psalm 136:2