Childhood is meant to be a carefree time, full of play and fun memories to look back fondly on. While we all desire this kind of childhood for our kids, the reality is that life on this side of heaven is hard, and our children will not be shielded from this truth, no matter how hard we try to protect them from it.
Added to that are the increasing pressures for today’s young people, amplified by technology which needs to be carefully managed for its benefits to remain in place. When parents pick up on what might be anxiety in children, their responses can affect whether this anxiety will be able to be subdued, or whether it will be increased.
Well-meaning parents can bring about the latter, particularly when they do their best to remove whatever fear the child is facing, in order to protect them. Rather, it is important to help them navigate the obstacles so that they will build confidence to overcome and grow into emotionally mature, resilient adults.
While we might not always know the best way to help our kids, God does, and that is why there is enormous benefit in presenting children with Bible verses that can help them, and which you can pray through together to allay concerns and take hold of the peace which God has promised to those who bring their worries to Him.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done; then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ. – Philippians 4:6-7
We have a wonderful opportunity to help our children hardwire their brains to hand over all their worries to God the minute anxious thoughts come into their minds. For adults, this is so much harder; no matter how much we believe the truth of the verse above. Anxiety in children can be greatly reduced by showing them healthy and godly ways to process thoughts and emotions.
Instead of letting our worries fester inside us, we are to let God know about everything that concerns us. Nothing that we ask for is outside of his sphere of influence, and, while he may not answer in the way we always hope him to, our children will surely start to experience the peace “which exceeds anything we can understand” as they become more disciplined in their thought and prayer life.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39
In the verses above, the apostle Paul records some of the most powerful words about love ever written. They point to how unstoppable and indestructible God’s love is toward us – when we are believers in Christ, there is nothing we can do that will then separate us from him.
Anxiety in children is something that parents desperately want to cure by assuring them that they are loved. However, we are limited by our humanity and should emphasize that while we love them, only God’s love is perfect and complete. Knowing that you are loved always and forever, and experiencing that love as a real relationship with God develops can go a long way toward alleviating anxieties.
Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up. – Proverbs 12:25
This verse from Proverbs is simple and yet sums up a key truth from the Bible: our words matter. Anxiety in children will not take long to rear its head as they mingle with others and start to see the destructive influence of sin.
Our children will find themselves on both the giving and receiving end of mean words and need to be made aware of the power contained in them so that they can either bring life and peace or break down and cause a heavy heart. Children can be taught kindness as a habit, which will help them and others as they navigate through life.
Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? – Matthew 6:25-27
We live in uncertain times, and anxiety in children springs up as they consider the future and what will happen. Some can become so consumed with what might happen tomorrow that they lose the inability to enjoy the present. This very tangible picture of God caring for nature can help us to focus our children’s minds on God’s goodness.
In verse thirty-three, we find the directive to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” This can be hard for children to understand, but as they focus on God and what their lives look like when serving him, they will become less aware of their own needs and more caught up in what it looks like to seek his kingdom and his righteousness.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. – Proverbs 3:5-6
Life can be confusing, and children can face all sorts of things that don’t make sense, such as divorce, bullying, grief, failure, and all situations that don’t have immediate answers. If we know that anxiety in children can be dealt with by resolving uncertainty, we should introduce them to the One who knows everything, and who will show us the way forward. He may simply shed enough light on the path for the next step, but this promise will allow for peace throughout.
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light. – Matthew 11:28-30
While our children’s lives may seem relatively uncomplicated, they learn from a young age how to carry the burdens of the world on their shoulders. If this weight is not lifted, anxiety in children is the result. We can show our children that by repenting of their sins and looking to Christ in faith, they can have the burden of their stress relieved.
Anxiety in children is not something that should be taken lightly, and if symptoms persevere or worsen, and seem beyond what would be deemed “normal,” it is important to get additional support.
A biblically trained counselor will use Scripture, as above, to connect to where the child is at, and be able to ascertain if there are deeper issues that need to be resolved. An anxious child should also be checked out by a pediatrician to ensure that there are no underlying medical reasons for their anxiety.
“Parachute Game”, Courtesy of Artem Kniaz, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Ready for the Rain”, Courtesy of Ben Wicks, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “School Days”, Courtesy of Element5 Digital, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Sitting on a Hammock”, Courtesy of Sr. Janko Ferlic, Unsplash.com, CC0 License