The question is, how do you know your child is experiencing fear as a parent?
There might come a time in your life when you are overwhelmed with the feeling of fear and anxiety. This is usually a dark moment in your life when you become weary and helpless, and all you can think of is for it all to end.
Fear is a psychological weapon used by the devil to suppress our faith and confidence in Christ. It triggers the human mind to strongly anticipate harm and other forms of imminent mortal danger, thereby placing the mind in a state of hopelessness.
When fear is not put under control, it brings about self-doubt and doubts about the power of God. And this is something God despises because he wants us to live in faith at all times.
Fear is one of the tools that the devil uses to disconnect Christians from the grace and protection of God, and this is why the devil likes to create an illusion in our hearts and threaten us with something we hold dearly so we can renounce our faith in God.
This same strategy was used against Job in the book of Job 2 where Satan threatened Job with everything he held dear to his heart, hoping Job would deny and renounce his faith and love for God. Yet, Job remained steadfast, and we are called to do the same.
This strategy is still in use today by the devil against every believer in Christ, and our children are often a prime target. The devil targets them with the spirit of fear because they are still young, naive, and weak. He creates all manners of events and scenarios to mess with their minds and take control of their lives.
Signs Your Child is Living In Fear
The question is, how do you know your child is experiencing fear as a parent?
Here are some signs to look for in your child to know if fear controls them:
1. They don’t want to be alone.
2. They are experiencing nightmares.
3. They exhibit remarkable mood changes and suddenly begin to exhibit withdrawal from family and friends.
4. Just as some children don't want to be alone, others begin to keep to themselves.
5. You notice they are sad for unknown reasons.
6. They suddenly begin to exhibit signs of low self-esteem.
7. They suddenly start having trouble concentrating.
8. They develop an eating or sleeping disorder.
These signs, and many others, vary from child to child depending on the age, gender, and cause of their fears or anxiety. As a parent, you should always pay attention to your child. Do not ignore any changes in their behavioral pattern, no matter how mild they may seem.
Things Your Child is Afraid Of
The cause of fear can be different for each child, and the severity can be different too, based on the child's psychology, age, gender, and upbringing. Your child can be afraid for one particular reason or a collection of reasons. Some fears are imposed on the child subconsciously by society or the kinds of friends or company they keep, while some fears are just natural instincts that kick in at an early stage of the child's development.
Unfortunately, sometimes, we parents project fears into the hearts of our children, often ignorantly, in the name of setting standards and expectations for our kids.
Some things a child might be afraid of include:
1. Academic failure: A child can believe that the only way to make the parent proud is to succeed academically since the parent has revealed how much they value academic success above everything else. Or, probably, the other siblings that perform well academically are the only ones receiving all the adulation and attention of the parent. Such children will be obsessed with academic success so much that their greatest fear will be to fail.
2. Physical abuse, harassment, and bullying: This is common in a child with a history of violence, abuse, and harassment and has been psychologically traumatized at a tender age. They are constantly haunted by this trauma. Likewise, when a child is exposed to or witnesses violence or bullying in school or on the streets, fear becomes their survival tactic.
3. Rejection: The fear of rejection constantly haunts the heart of a child from a broken home or a child with any form of deformity or challenges.
4. Imaginary harm: This includes all kinds of intangible fears. They include the different phobias and imaginary monsters found in movies, stories, and other figments of their imaginations.
How To Help Your Child Overcome Fears
Now that you can identify the kind of fear your child is troubled with, the next step is to help them deal with and overcome these fears.
Here are some helpful tips:
1. Establish Open Communication
Communication obviously is the key to solving almost every problem. You need to first get your child to talk about what troubles them. Ask many questions. Most kids don't have the right words to describe or explain what frightens them, so it helps when you ask the right questions and listen with an open mind to clearly understand what they are dealing with and how they feel.
2. Encourage Them without Judgment
There is a possibility that they might have made some silly mistakes. Or made some bad decisions that landed them in trouble, which is what they are currently contending. As a parent, you must put your judgment aside, focus on their safety, and help them process the predicament first (ensuring they are both physically and mentally safe).
This part is crucial in the life of every child. Children are bound to make several bad decisions that will ultimately get them in trouble, but many kids would rather keep to themselves out of the fear of being judged by their parents. Save your judgment for later. Help them get through the mess first. Chances are, they already learned their lessons without you judging them.
Children need to know that, despite their errors, and stupid choices, you still love and care for them as a parent. This doesn't mean you neglect discipline. Rather, this means you guard your words and actions with God's love.
3. Work with Them to Overcome the Fear (Follow up)
You also have to take it upon yourself to be involved in the process. Keep checking on the child and their progress in getting over their fears. Continue reassuring them positively with examples and similar cases in the Bible and how victory for the Christ-follower was earned.
By following up with your child, you boost their confidence and the thought of their parents having their back. This will help them more easily overcome whatever fear haunts them, and it also keeps a healthy, open, honest communication line between you and your child.
4. Take Necessary Actions if the Need Arises
Depending on the cause of their fear, you might have to take some drastic actions to mitigate this fear. Perhaps your child needs to talk with a counselor or clinical physician to find the proper techniques to attack the fears.
Or, if your child is afraid of being physically or emotionally bullied, harassed, or abused by someone, you must take necessary actions promptly. If it requires involving the police or other appropriate authorities, you need to do so ASAP. This way, your child will feel safer knowing that their oppressor has been curbed. In some intense cases, given the high crime rates and suicidal rates among even young children, it might require relocating your family entirely to save your child from imminent harm. You must be willing to do anything it takes to keep your child safe so they can have peace of mind.
5. Equip Them with the Word of God and Prayers
The greatest weapon any parent can give their child is the Word of God and prayers (Ephesians 6:11).
These weapons require no license to wield and use at any time, and access is completely free.
The Word of God and prayer will always suffice when the child feels defenseless and when you are not present to help them. In this situation, they can call on their heavenly Father and the host of angels to defend and protect them.
Prayer and the Word of God will also boost their confidence and give them courage in the face of any form of danger.
As parents, we owe our children the duty of paying close attention to them. To use communication to get them to freely express themselves without judgment. They should tell us when they mess up rather than keep it to themselves and make even worse decisions for fear of our judgments.
By paying attention, we can tell whenever they are going through any physical, emotional, or spiritual challenges.
We must also nurture them with the Word of God and teach them to pray effectively. These will help them overcome whatever fear the devil tries to plant in their hearts, giving God the victory over their body, mind, and spirit.
Photo Credit: © Getty Images
Emmanuel Abimbola is a creative freelance writer, blogger, and web designer. He is a devout Christian with an uncompromising faith who hails from Ondo State in Nigeria, West Africa. As a lover of kids, Emmanuel runs a small elementary school in Arigidi, Nigeria.
The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.
You can read Rhonda's full article here!