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“When God made you, He gave you feelings.” How does that sentence resonate with you? Perhaps you wish your preschooler would have fewer feelings, or you find yourself wishing your teenager would settle on just one! Feelings come in all shapes and sizes—some delightful, while others not so much.
A few months ago I shared ideas to teach your child or students about sadness. Today, I am offering tips on addressing fear (and giving away a fantastic book)!
Helping Children Understand What Fear Looks Like
Fear manifests in many ways. Sometimes being scared is enveloped in worry for oneself or others. Feeling scared may occur because something is new or unfamiliar. It can also be caused by perfectionism, driven by a fear of failure. Children commonly feel scared when they are alone or during a storm.
The outward appearance of fear sometimes resembles sickness or a tummy ache. Fear may produce shaking, crying, or even anger. On the face, fear appears in extreme expressions, such as a wide-open or tightly-closed mouth or eyes.
Tools to Give Children Who Struggle with Fear
Healthy fear training occurs when the child is calm. Because fear is a complex emotion and involves many underlying feelings, naming the fear is a great place to begin. Help the child move beyond “I am scared” to “I am worried about ____. It is making my face/body ______.” This helps the child recognize the why and how of the emotion.
For change to occur, a negative behavior must be replaced with a positive option. Train the child to take deep, slow breaths when scared. Practice breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth. This is especially helpful for kiddos who get particularly worked up or begin to hyperventilate. Again, this must be practiced when the child is calm so that the child can implement the tool in the high-emotion moment.
It is also important to guide children to recognize true fear versus unrealistic fears they have developed in their minds. Let the child know that fear may be a good thing as it works as an alarm that something is wrong. But irrational fear leads to unrealistic concern. Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Even at a young age, train the child to take thoughts captive by focusing on what is true about situations.
Read: Creating a Do Not Worry Book for Kids and Adults
When my children were young, they learned the verses and song for Psalm 56:3-4a:
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
By singing it throughout the day, they learned the song well enough to sing when they felt scared during a thunderstorm, at night, or any other time that they were safe, but the emotion was strong.
Discover more Bible verses for kids about fear.
Teaching about Fear Through Books
I am always on the lookout for quality books about emotions, especially those with a biblical worldview. Zonderkids has hit it out of the park with a new series entitled, “Bringing Big Emotions to a Bigger God.”
God, I Feel Scared explains that our emotions are given to us by God. Some feel wonderful, while others aren’t as fun. But the authors don’t stop there. They continue by explaining:
- Situations in which you can feel scared
- Why God created the “scared” emotion
- Facial expressions and body movements showing fear
- Words that can express fear
- Moving beyond fear
- Healthy activities to do when you feel scared
- Reminder that God “doesn’t want you to stay afraid. That’s why He promises to stick right by your side.”
This is a must-have book for your home or classroom library. While reading, especially spend time pulling additional learning from the illustrations. They are rich with opportunity.
I also invite you to check out God, I Feel Sad and be watching for more books to be released in this series. For more ideas on teaching emotions, ABCJesusLovesMe.com contains additional books and tips, and pragmatics ideas.
Seek professional support if you have concerns about your child’s ability to manage fear.
God, I Feel Scared GIVEAWAY:
Zonderkidz has provided an opportunity for you to add God, I Feel Scared ($12.99) to your library.
Click the rectangular image or link to enter to win. This giveaway ends on Friday, February 19th @ 12:00 p.m (CST). The winner will be announced on this blog, so make sure to come back to see if you won.
Thank you to Zonderkidz for allowing me the opportunity to review and share my honest opinions of this book.
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