I’ve mentioned this before: the incidence of anxiety in younger children—not just MKs—is on the rise in nearly every culture.
With recent conflicts and tragedies across the globe adding to the already exacerbated fear and upheaval of the pandemic, we can only expect that cases of serious anxiety in kids will continue to increase.
When I was growing up, there was little attention paid to the emotions of children. They were passed over as temporary juvenile reactions. Some—like anger, fear, resentment—were casually labeled as sin and added to an often-unspoken list of failures that would disappoint God and make him ashamed of us.
For the sake of today’s generation, we need to do better. We must find a way to respond to the full spectrum of emotional expression in the little ones we love with something that comforts the child, affirms our care, and points to Jesus’ unfailing love.
I wrote the short piece below as a resource for parents who might suspect that their little ones are harboring anxiety, but don’t quite know how to open that conversation.
The concept is simple: read the 16 slides as you would a children’s book, preferably at a calm time of day and in a comfortable space, and gently move the conversation forward when you’re done. Ask gentle follow-up questions. Listen with love and interest. Respond with careful words and lavish love.
Then offer to help as you can—and seek outside assistance for what is beyond your capacity to address.
May we love the anxious children of this generation better than we did those of the past. And may the cycle that hushed and stigmatized anxiety in Christian circles finally be broken.
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