Inside: Learn how to help kids with anxiety. Karis–children’s minister and mom of four–shares six resources for kids ages 3-13.
The whole world feels upside down, doesn’t it? Parenting on a good day is difficult. Parenting through a pandemic virus (and the panic that surrounds it) is, well, daunting.
We share openly with our boys about prayer needs in our world (with age-appropriate boundaries of course), so we had already been praying for others when the situation moved closer to home, school was cancelled, and we started discussing a few adjustments we’d be making as a family.
On the surface, everything seemed fine. Our gentlemen were thrilled that spring break would be extended, that Daddy wouldn’t be going to the office, and that we’d be eating an unusual diet of more pantry items than fresh foods. Since they seemed to be in favor of all of the above, it hadn’t occurred to me that they were feeling the strain of this new reality…until yesterday.
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We Cried Over Spilled Milk
Man of Logic is just that–he processes the world through a lens of facts, organization, and math–that is, until worry enters in. Once he becomes concerned about something, he can “logic” himself into all sorts of catastrophic events.
Last night, I came downstairs after tucking the littlest one into bed to discover a broken glass, spilled milk, and lots of tears. A huge part of me wanted to be frustrated. Luckily, grace stepped in first.
I sat on the floor of the kitchen with him, and we cried. I held him, and we let the tears flow. It didn’t take very long before I realized these tears had nothing to do with spilled milk and everything to do with the strain the looming coronavirus has put on our lives. After several minutes of just letting the emotions spill out, I whispered in his ear, “We can do hard things together.” And we cleaned up the glass, the milk, and each other.
Anxiety Action Plan
Worry and anxiety are tricky. There’s not a one-size-fits-all solution to this parenting woe. Every heart, every child’s wiring, and every child’s coping mechanisms are as unique as they are. For Man of Logic, giving him an action plan to battle his worry is key to helping him overcome it. Enter the amazingly-done book by Dawn Huebner, Outsmarting Worry (An Older Kid’s Guide to Managing Anxiety). As soon as we got the milk mess cleaned up, we opened Outsmarting Worry and crafted a plan.
Recommended for ages 9-13, this book is an excellent resource for kids who respond well to strategies and planning. It teaches skills for unlocking our own power to outsmart the anxiety that creeps into our minds. The author teaches the science behind why we worry in an age-appropriate way, and then gives step-by-step actions to come back to emotional health.
What do we know?
For Man of Logic, the most important step I can help him with is “Follow Your Knows.” What do we know? We know the virus is here. We know we have taken every step we can to protect our family and the community around us. We know we have a home, food, water, and each other, as well as caring and brilliant doctors surrounding us. (And yes, friends, I recognize these statements are laced in privilege, and we did talk about this, too.)
Here are other “knows” we know. We know we have a God that is bigger than disease, and he can be trusted. And we know he loves us more than we can imagine.
Together we wrote out our plan, placed sticky notes with action steps around his room, and reminded ourselves how tricky worry is (so tricky). Then, I drew him a warm bath and poured him a fresh glass of milk. Even gentlemen need moments of tenderness.
Other Tools to Help Kids Overcome Anxiety
I reached out to my co-authors for their favorite resources for navigating worry with kids (and I hope you’ll add your favorites in the comments section).
GoZen has a great free masterclass webinar, but if you can’t find an hour to listen in (I get it–kids everywhere), this article discusses a few of the points found in the webinar. The info in both resources can be adapted for all ages.
Writing can help kids tap into their inner world and slow down to process emotions more effectively.
- Check out Karey’s post on empowering kids to process big feelings through writing. She also highlights a great picture book.
- Grab our free, printable gratitude journal where kids can log feelings and share blessings. There are also Bible verses and gratitude prompts.
- These printable Bible verses focus on relying on God to build resilience in trials and trouble. There are cards and tear-off sheets (that double as bookmarks).
- In this article about facing the unknown, Valerie shares four picture books and how they can help kids thrive in new situations and friendships.
Relying on God’s Strength
As I walk through this with my kids, it’s day by day, and I am thankful that our good God is walking with us. The words of the Rend Collective song “More than Conquerors” is speaking so loudly to my heart as I reflect on our battle plan for worry. It reminds me God gives us the strength to go on even when all our hope has run out.
We will get through this together, my friends. Love each other well and recognize that we’re all feeling big emotions right now and need extra grace.
Leave a Comment Below
How are you helping your kids deal with anxiety or other big feelings? How are you dealing with yours? Share in the comments section.