COVID-19, Your Kids, Their Fear

Thom DickFeatured1 Comment

Fear was a big part of my life as a kid.

When I was young and had a nightmare I could go to my parents’ room and they had a sweet sheep skin rug beside their bed that we could sleep on. (There was NO way that mom was letting us into her actual bed with her and dad.)

The problem was that it was a small rug and I was a big kid. Eventually it wasn’t just me feet hanging off the rug… my whole butt was on the hard floor.

Shortly thereafter, sleeping in mom and dad’s room was no longer a tenable response to my nighttime fears.

When I was about 13 I remember sharing my night time dilemma with one of my youth leaders, Dorthea Janz. Dorthea was a big sister to me and I will never forget what she told me.

“Thom [actually it was Tom back then…], I get scared at night sometimes too.”

No! Not you too Dorthea! My world was rocked.

“But,” she continued, “when I’m afraid I have a very simple solution; I sing Jesus Loves Me. Think about it, Tom. Let’s say it’s the devil who is trying to make me afraid, I start to worship, how long do you think he’s going to use that strategy?”

Brilliant.

Do you know that I still use that strategy as an adult? Fear is one of the reminders I have to worship God.

We live in unprecedented times. (That could easily be nominated the cliche of the COVID-19 crisis.) And unlike many crises that are on the news, this one has our kids right smack in the middle of it because they aren’t going to school starting on March 23rd.

How do we help our children through this next season when another scary stat or story lurks around every corner? I want to share some strategies with you that will help you at the start of the crisis. We may very well need additional strategies in a week or two! For now, let me just give you three key ideas.

Find Your Peace as a Parent

I know. I really do. Rates of anxiety are sky high at the best of times. And right now the weight of the world is on parents’ shoulders.

I also know that just saying “Don’t be anxious or you’ll make your kids more anxious” is about as helpful as a toilet paper meme. It might be funny, but it doesn’t stop people from hoarding.

Finding your peace may be the toughest assignment as a parent. It might require the most work on your part, but to find peace, genuine peace, needs to be a your first priority.

Keep doing devotions.

Avoid binging on media and feeding other addictions.

Breathe deeply.

Get your sleep.

You can do this!



Go to “Church” However That Looks

In a strange way we have more options to check out churches than ever before as they go online to stream their services. It’s actually kind of neat… as a short term solution at least.

Yesterday, I felt more connected to my church family than I would on the weekend because of all the fun social media engagement!

Watching the livestream from Southland on the weekend.

There are two points here: 1) We can connect and worship in creative ways – there’s no need to take a break. 2) Our kids need as much normal routine as possible.

Should the need to livestream services continue, make sure you attend as a family. It can be a very precious time.

I firmly believe that our primary community, the family, can be strengthened in the next little while, and a strong family is a HUGE weapon against fear! So gather your family, and perhaps a few people who don’t have one, and do church together!

(PS If you missed Pastor Lorne’s AMAZING message on fear yesterday, just click here to watch it!)

Talk About Specific Strategies With Your Kids

Do the spiritual work, yes, but also get practical. Just like Dorthea gave me a specific strategy to deal with my fear, your kids need specific strategy.

Here are some suggestions:

  1. Talk about turning off the internet and any other ways that news can get into your house. We are bombarded by messages all day, we don’t need that in our homes after dark too.
  2. Unplug regularly. It’s difficult to avoid sitting on media when we are stressed out, but reading, playing games, going for walks, getting outside are all essential to our mental health. You need to intentionally help your kids do these things.
  3. Help them them get their feelings out. Perhaps start a communication journal where they can write all their thoughts down and you respond to them.
  4. Memorize some Bible verses about fear as a family. Here’s a list to get you started.
  5. Remind them that we are more emotional (fear is an emotion), when we are tired so we need lots of rest these days.
  6. Give them a safe place to go at night when they are fearful. Get your own “sheep skin” and make sure your kids know it, and you, are there for them.
  7. Give them good information. There’s no reason to hide the truth from your kids, because they will just form their own version in that case! (Just keep it to small doses at a time!) Our middle school shared a very helpful paper from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration this week. Take a look for good information and other helpful tips for parents.

Above all, ask them when they feel most at peace and work to make those time happen!

I’m praying that families grow closer during this very unusual time in the world, and I am hopeful that they will!

For I, Yahweh your God, hold your right hand and say to you: Do not fear, I will help you.

Isaiah 41:13 (HCSB)

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Thom Dick

Associate Pastor – Southland Church

Thom has worked with children and youth for 18 years. He and his wife, Tara, have 7 kids; 4 boys, and two daughters and a SON-IN-LAW(!). The kids are spread across 23 years too, so that gives him plenty of experimental material to write about! They have welcomed 31 foster children into their home over the past number of years.

One Comment on “COVID-19, Your Kids, Their Fear”

  1. Hi, some great advice about unplugging regularly from social media and news!

    I find with our kids that the best way to develop healthy emotions is to help them develop healthy feelings based on truth. Diligently teaching the gospel, the sinful nature of our hearts, and the grace and love of Christ (by taking God’s wrath for us) is the best way we have found that grows healthy emotions. Preach Christ crucified, and the knowledge of God will lead to the fruit of peace and righteousness. Revelation 6 tells us the time is coming when humanity will be crying out, 16 calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb,
    17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” – Revelation 6:16-17

    But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. – 1 Corinthians 15:57

    I Col 3:1-10 is excellent. We must put to death what is earthly in us, thanks be to God that Christ has saved us from sin, and has risen, to give us the hope of eternal life.

    Our kids need an accurate knowledge of God to give them peace during times of trouble. Jesus promises us that in this world we will have trouble, but He has overcome the world.
    Praise God we have a wonderful Savior!

    and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. – Colossians 3:10

    This just to encourage all of us not to cater too much to our feelings, (feelings are deceptive, naturally selfish.)The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? – Jeremiah 17:9

    but instead to grow our emotions and feelings into the knowledge and hope and joy of Christ, enduring all things for the sake of our glorious God and Savior.

    God bless you

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