How do we explain it to children?

15 12 2012

worried eyes

The recent events that transpired in Newtown, Connecticut have captivated our attention. Among the many questions flooding our mind is, “What do we say to our children?”

Experts are offering wonderful advice. What to say. How many details to give.

One recommended saying, “You don’t need to worry. If anything like that happens in your school, the teachers and principal would surround you. Police officers would come to rescue you. Your father, and I would rush to get you.”

Few are emphasizing the importance of how to speak to children. If a parent speaks those reassuring words with an anxious tone, the child will mirror the adult’s stress.

Kids take their cue from parents. Throughout my 34+ yrs. as an educator, I’ve seen evidence of that fact. Kids can tell if a parent is worried. They can sense concern. It’s hard for them to believe things will be okay when the adult seems fearful.

When I told my second graders I had multiple sclerosis (MS), they read my expression. Studied my face. It was critical for me to convey the seriousness of my illness along with reassurances. My tone of voice, words, and facial expressions all had to match.

God had given me a peace about my illness. So I calmly conveyed the news. Here’s part of what I said:

“It’s not contagious. I have good doctors and I’m taking good medicine. There’s no cure. It’s no fun having MS. But, I have a choice. I can focus on the lousy parts of MS or I can think about the Truth. The Bible tells me God loves me and will help me. When I feel really sick, I get a love attack…God sends lots of people to help me. I’m thankful for my family and friends who do my chores at home when I can’t. You can help me by praying that I won’t have to absent. It makes me sad when I can’t be with you. I miss you. Sad things happen to everyone during their lives. When sad things happen, it helps to remember the promises in the Bible. Let’s all sing ‘Jesus Loves Me’ very slowly so we can think about the words in the song.”

Afterwards, I had the students write about MS. It was important to know what they understood and how they felt about my illness. I asked them to finish three sentences:

MS is…

I think God allowed Mrs. Chandler to get MS because…

I learned that when things are very sad or are very hard…

Their responses revealed they understood the illness. More importantly, they reacted very calmly to the news. Just like my demeanor.

Follow the advice of experts. Remember you’re the expert about your child. So, also follow your intuition.

First, prepare yourself. You may be in desperate need to feel God’s supernatural peace which passes understanding. With His calming assurance, you can approach your child. Ready to inform and remove fears.





Helping Kids Deal with Fear

12 12 2012

Hurricane Sandy

    Hurricane Sandy

The shooting in an Oregon mall yesterday may have scared your child. How can we help children deal with fear? Especially when we don’t understand how it could happen. Especially when our own sense of security is rattled.

I learned a powerful lesson about helping children cope with anxiety while teaching second graders.

One fall, I had a student who sometimes seemed reluctant to go out to recess. The Lord helped me notice a pattern. He resisted going outside only on cloudy days.  To confirm my suspicions, I took him in the hall.

“Are you afraid to go outside?”

His eyes got as big as saucers. With sheer terror written all over his face he reported, “Yes. It’s because one day in after-school care we had to run quickly inside before a huge storm got us!”

That experience gave him a phobia of going outside on a cloudy day.

I reassured him saying, “God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear. I believe God will take away that fear by Christmas. So, I want you bring in a change of clothes. I’ll also bring in a change of clothes. When you tell me the Lord has removed your fear, we will celebrate by walking together in the rain.”

God honored my words spoken by faith. He removed the boy’s fear. One day—before Christmas—we rejoiced in God’s faithfulness by walking together in the rain.

That same God can remove  your child’s fear. And replace it with His perfect peace.

Kids worry about lots of things. One day, I asked my second graders what they wanted to talk to God about—to say what worries them.  Here were some of their responses:

  • I worry about fire (in my house, at night, etc.)
  • I worry about a burglar or robber breaking into my house (that he might steal me).
  • I’m worried I might break a bone.
  • I worry about noises.
  • I get worried about if someone gets sick. I get scared that they will get so sick that they will die.
  • What I worry about is fires, my mom getting cut, burglars, bullies, sickness that makes people die, heart attacks, guns, noises, and darkness.
  • I am worried that someone might get shot, get stabbed with a sword or just die.  I am so worried about that.  I’m also worried about someone taking me at night time. I’m worried about my family getting hurt like in a fire.  A bad dream is definitely one of the most scariest things of all.
  • I’m worried about people fighting in Iraq like my brother.
  • I’m worried about bullies.
  • I’m worried about my fish dying.  All the other fish died and most of them were babies.
  • I am worried that I will get the spirit of fear.

God honors the Truth we invest in our children. Calm your child’s fears with verses like:

“Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me and I will listen to you.”   Jeremiah 29:12

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

2 Timothy 1:7

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”  Isaiah 26:3

What does your child worry about? How do you calm his/her fears?





Afraid of Christmas?

4 12 2012
Christmas Morning 1963

Christmas Morning 1963

Maybe you have a love-hate relationship with Christmas. There are things you absolutely love about the holiday, and things you hate.

Love reflecting on cherished childhood memories. But, hate the commercialism of Christ’s birthday.

Love worshipping the Lord on Christmas Eve. But, hate being alone.

Recently I wrote a devotional about fears and stress at Christmas.

By the way, in the picture above, the girl coming down the steps Christmas morning is me…That’s right—me with the uncombed hair. If you’re not afraid of Christmas, then maybe that bedhead hair scared you!

You can find that devotional on Rest Ministries website. It’s entitled “Fears and Stress at Christmas When Chronically Ill” and was posted December 3rd.

Visit Chronic Illness Pain Daily Devotionals (Rest Ministries) to read that devotional (and find more devotionals written by other people with chronic pain or illness).