7 Ways to Help Children Cope with Fear

In light of the tragic incident in Connecticut, what's the best way for an adult to help a child cope with fear?

No doubt, the tragic incident in Conneticut has caused fear in all of us. Imagine the fear in the innocent mind of a child. How does a parent or teacher address this fear?

Here are 7 suggestions:

1. Don’t assume.

Don’t assume just because your child doesn’t mention what happened that they don’t know or care. Fear is a normal reaction, especially for a child. Watch for unusual behavior. Be aware of mood changes or extreme sadness. Make sure they know it’s okay to talk about it and that there is no shame or disappointment from you when they are fearful. Maybe tell them of a time you were afraid . . . even a recent time.

2. Limit exposure.

You’re curious, so the television may be on news stations. What are they covering right now? Remember they process information differently than you. They may not appear to be watching, but they probably are more than you think. Fill their minds with things to encourage them not perpetuate the fear. This is a time to turn off the television and simply play with your kids. They’ll get no better assurance.

3. Ask questions.

You may think they are afraid of one thing, but it is something completely different. Many times children, especially young children, are simply confused or have misinformation. You can better address the fear if you know its roots.

4. Assure them.

Let them know they are safe. Don’t lie to them, but remember the chances of the same thing happening to them is rare . . . very rare. Remind them you’d do anything to protect them. You may need to help them process for weeks to come. Don’t rush them to “get over it.” Pray for and with them often.

5. Live normally.

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As much as possible, live a normal weekly schedule. Their routine is part of their “security blanket.” Don’t allow their fear to cripple them or the family for long. In spite of our fears, we have to move forward.

6. Be calm.

Especially during this stressful time, don’t let your children see you in panic. Watch what you say in front of them. Parents shouldn’t fight in front of kids anytime, but especially during a time of uncertainty like this. Renew your faith. They get their faith through you.

7. Give them Scripture.

They need something they can cling to as permanent and dependable. What better place than the Word that will never fade? Recite Psalm 56:3 to them. If they are old enough, write it down somewhere they can see it often. Memorize some verses of strength and share with them often.

Ron Edmondson
Ron Edmondson is a pastor and church leader passionate about planting churches, helping established churches thrive, and assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life. Ron has over 20 years business experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner, and he's been helping church grow vocationally for over 10 years.