Depression & Anxiety

What Are Your Kids Afraid of?

November 17, 2015 • 5 min
Scared to look

 I was in second grade when the air raid sirens went off. The teacher had warned us it would happen and, when we heard the noise, we were supposed to dive under our desks, clasp our hands over our necks, and hunch down towards the floor. I knew it was just a test, but the sirens were so loud that I was fearful anyway. The tears sprung to my eyes and then I became fearful someone would see me and tease me for crying.

Children’s fears are real and we need to know how to help. God has great answers for our fears, and those answers will help our kids too.

I do have one gripe about Scripture. It is the phrase “fear God.” I heard that phrase as a child and misunderstood what those words meant. So, when I blew it and did something wrong, I wasn’t just concerned with what my mom and dad would do. I had to worry about the wrath of Almighty God! One of the first Bible lessons we should have with our kids is to teach them that when the Bible says to “fear God” it means we are supposed to think of him with reverent awe. Show your child the small hands of a newborn and tell them, “God made those.” Show them a beautiful sunrise or sunset and give God the credit. Listen to the roar of thunder and shout, “Hi God! We love you too!” Teach them what it means to revere God and you have taught them what it means to fear God.

An article in the New York Times gives a lot of insight into the things our children most fear. The article states: “Children have a more finely tuned sense of pride than most adults realize. For children fear of being humiliated far outranks many concerns that adults assume they are most troubled by, like the birth of a sibling or having an operation. Children also say they are disturbed by incidents that would make them seem ‘bad.’ Among their biggest concerns are being caught stealing or being sent to the school principal’s office.”

How old were you when you told a lie, cheated on a test, shoved or hit a sibling, or stole something from a store? Kids learn at an early age that they do bad things sometimes. Kids (and parents) need to learn Romans 3:23-24. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” I’ve highlighted your two-part lesson.

  • Everyone makes mistakes. No one is ever good enough to go to heaven.
  • Jesus died so he could give us a great gift. When we place our faith in Jesus it is “just-as-if-I’d” never made a mistake. Jesus makes us a home in heaven because only Jesus can.

Of course that doesn’t mean there are no consequences for our mistakes, but kids should learn they don’t have to “fear” consequences. They should seriously dislike consequences, but not fear them.

Parents underestimate the power, control and influence that the school hours have in our children’s lives. Children fear a harsh or unfeeling word from their teachers. Children fear being teased or looked down upon by classmates. Children fear being lonely or friendless. Fear will drive our kids to say and do things they know aren’t right, just to be part of a popular group. How does Scripture help our kids with the fear of their peers?

  1. Have them list some heroes from the Bible. Then talk about the fact that each of these heroes had enemies – even Jesus who was perfect! Teach them it is impossible to be popular with everyone. Then talk to them about the kind of people they should want to be popular with. “Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals” (1 Corinthians 15:33). Everyone has enemies, but we can have great friends too.
  2. God is the most important and trustworthy relationship a person can have. “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6). Your child’s most important friendship is with God.
  3. God cares about their hurts and fears and so do you. Remind your children of the people that love them, the people that like them, and that God adores them every moment of every day. “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).
  4. Keep the big picture in mind. God is concerned about their day – but he is also concerned about their whole life. One mistake, one lost friendship, one missed party is only a moment, but God has a plan for eternity. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). Teach your child that God assures them it will get better!

All of that said…there are practical things parents can do as well. Turn off the scary, dark, evil movies and television shows. Kids don’t need to see that stuff! Pay attention to the news stories that your child stops to listen to or brings up at the dinner table. Let them talk and try to discern what they are concerned about or afraid of. Then ask God for the wisdom to speak to their fears.

Finally, know that your children are always watching and listening to what you fear. My mom was afraid of the swimming pool – so she made certain all of us learned how to swim. I only recently learned about her fear and I’m grateful she was careful not to pass it to us. Fears are real and fears are normal. My favorite verse on the subject is Isaiah 41:13. “For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”  Almost every time the phrase “fear not” is in Scripture, it is written as a command. God did not allow our fears to be an option.

Teach your children to be controlled by God’s truth rather than their fears. Sometimes all we need to do is run to our heavenly Dad and tell him what we fear. “God is great and God is good…”  “Jesus loves me this I know…” Fears are real, but so is God—and God is always big enough.

About the Author:

Janet Denison

Janet Denison teaches others to live an authentic faith through her writing, speaking, and teaching ministry. She blogs weekly at and often at

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