If I ever had you over to visit, you might notice there are night-lights set up all over my house. I have lights permanently wired in at the top of my staircases. There are plug-in night-lights in all the bathrooms, including my own. You might assume that these are for my small children. Yes, “the dark” is common among children’s fears—but in my house, I’m the one who is most afraid of it.
Whether it’s the dark, heights, or spiders, most everyone will admit to being afraid of something. This includes our kids. They usually learn to deal with a lot of these fears as they grow up. But when we don’t face our fears, especially the big ones, we end up letting fear rule our lives, and we make bad choices. When these deeper worries start to direct our kids’ decisions, they will do the same. Here are 3 children’s fears our kids need to face.
1. Fear of Suffering
Suffering can scare our kids in a couple of ways. One of our most basic instincts is self-preservation. This means our kids can be scared of suffering. When kids are driven by a fear of suffering, it might lead them to choose the easier option instead of helping someone. It might make them stay quiet instead of standing up for something they believe in. We need to teach them that real good often comes through great difficulty. We need to show them examples of others who have suffered for what they believe in.We need to teach our kids that their value is not in what they do but in who they are.
2. Fear of Failure
Our kids are going to experience failure and loss. This is especially hard because whether it’s with grades at school or success in sports, much of their lives is based on their ability to achieve something. It’s a tragedy that a lot of kids equate their sense of self-worth with their ability to measure up to someone else’s standards. If our kids base their identities on what they can achieve, it’s no wonder they are afraid to fail. This sort of fear can paralyze our kids, keeping them from trying anything new. We need to teach our kids that their value is not in what they do but in who they are. We need to share our own failures with them and, at the same time, equip them with strategies for the times when they will fail.
3. Fear of Missing Out
The virtual world of cell phones and social media has amplified the fear of being left out into something far more potent. Where our fears of missing out used to be rooted in rumors and imagination, our kids see daily updates of all the things their friends and other kids their age might be doing. When kids are motivated by a fear of missing out, they often look for ways to get in on the excitement others are experiencing, whether or not that excitement is appropriate, safe, or the right thing to do. In the same way, as we teach our kids how to face peer pressure, we need to teach our kids to recognize the moments that their fear of being left out is leading them to make a bad or poorly thought out decision.
Sound off: What are some other children’s fears our kids need to face?
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What are you afraid of?”