Helping Our Children Navigate Fears and Anxiety

anxiety or faith

Fear is a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined. If fear is left unresolved, it can become detrimental.  As a mom it’s disheartening to watch a child experience fear and anxiety. A child’s fear may seem irrational but yet it tenaciously grips their soul impeding the child to think and act at times.

Fear can suddenly overwhelm and paralyze its victims as experienced by our daughter while attending her first concert to see Taylor Swift, whom she greatly admires.  I’m unsure if she was overwhelmed with excitement or the massive crowds, loud music, bright lights, screaming fans, etc. Regardless, she was gripped by a fear, which can surface at the most inopportune times resulting in guilt, loneliness and even missed opportunities.  My daughter wanted to leave a concert she had begged for months to attend. I held her hand, offered comfort and refrained from criticizing or minimizing her fear, which, in turn, helped us to stay for the duration of the event.

In the past she became anxious when faced with new or unpredictable situations. Some of her fears escalated into phobias such as flying and driving over high bridges.

Anxiety is another word for fear.  Less intense forms of anxiety are worry, apprehension, and uneasiness. Panic, distress and dread are more intensive manifestations. Fear, in response to real danger, is helpful. However, perceived fear can be destructive when the threat of pain, danger, or evil is imaginary. This is the type of fear we were dealing with.

Below are a few ways we have helped our daughter navigate her fears and even overcome many of them.  I hope this encourages you.

13 suggestions for helping children naviagate fear or anxiety

  1. Help your child to evaluate their thought process since fear usually begins with a thought, rather than circumstances.  Ask if their thoughts are positive or negative? Teach them the power of correct thinking, especially in the moment. When they dwell on uncertainties and negative possibilities, teach them to instead flood their thoughts with positive messages.  See Philippians 4:8.
  2. Recall and record how God carried them through past challenges and uncertainties. We recount events that were stressful but that she persevered through such as playing and singing in front of others, flying on recent vacation and hanging out with new friends.
  3. Evaluate and deal with possible life stressors such as a lack of routine, major changes (moves, new school), parental disharmony, world news, inappropriate media choices, etc. In our home we rarely have the TV on and don’t watch the news, as it’s typically not up lifting.
  4. Never belittle the fear as a way of trying to get your child to over come it.  Saying, “Don’t be ridiculous! Flying is safer than driving” might have gotten my daughter on the plane but it won’t make the fear vanish.
  5. Don’t give into their fears, as it will only reinforce the fear. We’ve continued to travel and fly while providing lots of support and care as we prepare her for upcoming trips.
  6. Celebrate milestones and speak life into your child. This summer we flew several times and after each trip we praised our daughter for her accomplishment. Proverbs 12:25 states “Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up.”
  7. Educate yourself and your child about anxiety.  My daughter is better able to cope the more she understands what anxiety is and how to keep external stressors to a minimum.
  8. Memorize what God’s word says about worry, fear, anxiety, peace, etc.  Jesus commands us to avoid anxiety in Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything.” In Matthew 6:25-34 we are commanded, “do not worry.”  After all, worry says, “ we don’t trust God, He is not able to care for me.”  1 John 4:18 teaches “perfect love drives out fear.”
  9. Maintain a healthy diet while getting plenty of rest along with exercise. Personally we have found this to be imperative.
  10. Incorporate various coping strategies.  Find a calm environment and take deep, slow breaths to help your body settle down, your muscles relax, and your mind to think more clearly. Take a long walk if possible. We’ve taught our daughter to rate her fear 1 (manageable) – 5 (unbearable).   Create a “tool box”. Our daughter carries a purse that contains items that she finds soothing (lavender, mints, Bible verses, music, journal, etc.)  Use one of these applicable charts for helping your child navigate anxiety.
  11. Be other focused, as acts of kindness toward others will shift one’s focus and lift their spirits, reminding them of their own blessings and encourage connection with others.
  12. Listen sympathetically and reassure them that they are normal. As trivial as a fear may seem to you, remember it feels real for your child. By allowing them to talk about it often it becomes less powerful. 1 John 4:18 teaches “perfect love drives out fear.” Perfect love is expressed though being present and caring.
  13. Seek professional help if necessary but remember there are times when you know what’s best for your child so listen to the Holy Spirit.

The key to resolving fears and anxieties is faith in God which is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see according to Hebrews 11:1.

When your child is afraid or anxious what are some ways you have helped them navigate their emotions?

20 Social Media Guidelines for Tweens and Teens

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20 Social Media Guidelines for Tweens & Teens thewerners.org

Media affects our ATTITUDE and ACTIONS. Music, books, magazines, TV shows, computer games, apps, and movies are all considered media. If as parents we are to bring up our children in the way of the Lord we must be vigilant in helping them navigate social media choices and usage.

1 Corinthians 10:23 You say, “I am allowed to do anything” – but not everything is good for you.  You say, “I am allowed to do anything” – but not everything is beneficial. 

School is swinging into full gear and routines are being reestablished so as a family we sat down with our thirteen year old daughter and together came up with the following guidelines. We also reviewed which social media apps she is currently using, along with her passwords, history, and did a major reset as we love her and desire to help her make wise media choices.

 20 Social Media Guidelines for Our Family

  1. I will allow my parents to set my privacy settings and parental control settings on all my accounts and will not change these settings without permission.
  2. I will provide my parents with my passwords for all social media accounts and not change passwords without their permissions.
  3. I will never give out personal information (passwords, my name, age, our address, or other personal information) online or by text without my parents’ permission knowing that identity theft is real. I will let my parents know if anyone asks for personal information.
  4. I will get permission to join any social media site or to download software, songs, apps, etc. onto my devices by sending an email to both parents asking for permission. FYI Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter all require children to be at least 13 years old to join because of the “Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act,” which limits companies from collecting personal information about kids under 13. 
  5. I understand that my parents have a right to check my media history on all connected devices.  If I delete any history I will lose media privileges and will let my parents know why I deleted the history.
  6. I will keep the use of connected devices (cell phone, iPad, computer, etc.) in the open and not behind closed doors i.e. bathrooms or my bedroom.
  7. I will charge all media devices outside of my bedroom and not bring them into my room.
  8. I will use connected devices only outside of school time unless discussed beforehand or common sense dictates a need to use.
  9. I will maintain my best effort during the school year and dedicate myself to the extra curricular activities I’m signed up for.
  10. I will keep social media, streaming video, and television use in check. I will follow my parents’ rules regarding time limits for online use.  Remember, the enemy satan came to kill, steal, and destroy. He can defeat us through media distractions by keeping us busy clicking on links, watching funny videos, viewing and liking content.  Ask yourself if how you spend your time is pleasing to God. Matthew 6:33 Seek the Kingdom of God above ALL else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
  11. I will ask for permission before watching sitcoms, movies or videos either online or on the TV even if I must call or text my parents while visiting a friend’s home.
  12. I will not watch TV shows, movies, or play games that are inappropriate. I understand that so long as I live at home my parents have the right to screen all media choices. Proverbs 4:23 Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
  13. I will turn my head if any sexual content appears on screen, even kissing. Remember, your eyes take in images that your mind cannot erase so don’t pollute your mind with trash. Garbage in, Garbage out. Song of Solomon 2:7 Oh, let me warn you, sisters in Jerusalem, by the gazelles, yes, by all the wild deer: Don’t excite love, don’t stir it up, until the time is ripe-and you’re ready.
  14. I will not use the Internet inappropriately to slander, speak negatively, or bully anyone nor will I participate with others doing so.  I will let my parents know if others are unkind or offensive to me. Remember once you post something, you can’t take it back.  Words are powerful and can be used to build up or tear down others so use your words wisely. Exodus 23:2 “You must not follow the crowd in doing wrong.  When you are called to testify in a dispute, do not be swayed by the crowd to twist justice.
  15. I will avoid all chat rooms.
  16. I will alert my parents if I’m sent or come across pornography, anything inappropriate or that makes me feel uncomfortable.
  17. I will ask for permission before sharing photos of family, friends or myself.
  18. I will not listen to any music that has vulgar language or suggestive lyrics. Philippians 4:8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing.  Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.  Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
  19. I will not read magazines that focuses on gossip, sex, romance, etc.. Philippians 4:8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing.  Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.  Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
  20. I will agree to ask for permission before “friending” strangers on social media sites and I will not meet up with strangers I’ve met on-line

I understand that my parents love me and are seeking to protect me from danger.  I risk the following consequences for violating any of the above guidelines:

  1. ____________________________________________________________________
  2. ____________________________________________________________________
  3. ____________________________________________________________________

Signature/Date:_______________________________________________

I hope that this post has inspired you to reevaluate your tween/teens social media usage. Please talk to your child(ren) and establish media guidelines together.

Which guideline(s) did you find most helpful?

Never Stop Learning, As Life Never Stops Teaching

Today I am sharing over at I Take Joy on behalf of my mentor and friend. There is so much value and wisdom in learning from those older, wiser, and with life experience.

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Countless people have wrecked their lives by connecting with the wrong people. Thankfully, years ago (1998), God allowed my path to cross with Whole Heart Ministry, specifically the teachings of Clay and Sally Clarkson. Their grace filled messages appealed to my husband and I as we desired to leave a family legacy where we loved, accepted, and cared one another.

My relationship with the Clarkson family for many years was from afar; my life was impacted through their books, audio tapes, and yearly Mom Heart conferences. I have literally watched the Clarkson children grow up at the conferences and they are each authentic in their genuine love and passion for Christ.   Only in the last 7 years have I actually gotten to personally know Clay and Sally.  Luke 12:48 is says, ““From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” I’ve received so much from the teaching of WHM and desire for others to benefit from what they have to share.  

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I am thankful that I chose to surround myself with others who sought to leave behind a Godly legacy and with those who are worthy of emulation.  I trusted that the Godly characteristics I saw in the Clarkson’s lives would rub off on me and I would become better for it and I have.

Proverb 13:20 puts it this way, the one who associates with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.

As I surround myself with the right people, I hear the right things, I receive the right influences, and I become the right person. In Proverbs Solomon said, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend” (27:17).  If you want to remain sharp, you must surround yourself with sharp people. I am thankful for those who have sharpened me and for Sally. Today I can read the I Take Joy blog for a daily dose of encouragement. I can reread books or listen to old audio cassettes/CD’s.  I always anticipate the yearly Mom Heart Conference and know I will be inspired, encouraged, and wiser because of my investment into growing.

If you are seeking encouragement and a clear vision for how to raise competent children who love Jesus and each other, I highly suggest that you join me by signing up for Sally’s upcoming e-conference.

Truly there is nothing more important in your life than how you love and serve God through the way you raise your children. Our greatest legacy will be our children who grow up, leave home and become the new church body.  While my husband and I have launched two Godly, grounded, giving, and gracious daughters, we are still in the thick of parenting our thirteen year old daughter and occasionally have differences with our adult children :)

Recently we went on a FAMILY vacation together as years ago we casted the vision that our family would do things together, no matter how big or how old we may get. This is written down in our below mission statement:

The Werner Family Mission Statement

The Werner Family Mission Statement

We truly love and adore one another relishing any time together especially now that our eldest daughters live in Detroit and San Diego.  When we gather together it is fun, memorable, and challenging.  Yes, I said it was challenging as we each have different personalities that can rub up against each other.  We have misunderstandings over what we will do, where we will eat, or who will clean up the messes. While I know the right thing to do, I often blow it. I still get angry and frustrated, stressed and impatient.  I say things I regret. Multiply that by 5 and there’s sure to be challenges as we are each so different and opinionated but at the end of the day we will each choose love as love is worth it and we are family.

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Relationships are difficult. Like most people, I want to have the best possible relationship with those that mean the most to me, my family; therefore I will continue to sharpen myself with wisdom and truth.  I will surround myself with those who have gone before me and have launched successful spiritual champions.

You’ve gotta love technology! If you can’t watch the conference on July 14th and 15th, once purchased it will be yours forever to watch whenever it’s convenient. Consider hosting a small group of friends to watch it together so you can be accountable to one another and encourage each other.

It is never to late to be who you might have been. – George Eliot

So remember it is never too late to learn and grow, no matter how old you get. You can always make a change for the better. So never stop learning, as life never stops teaching.