Discipling Children through COVID-19
RE: How can I disciple my children through this?
I have been thinking quite a bit about how we can lead and disciple our children through this time. I have compiled a list of suggestions to prayerfully consider. I know all children are different and process differently but hopefully, there is something in here that can guide you. Times like this are incredible opportunities for the people of God to lead with faith AND to disciple our children in real-time.
Suggestion 1 -- Before you even talk with your children, work to come to a place in your own heart of faith. If you are afraid, it’s OK. Admit your fear before God, talk with him about it and then choose to turn away from your fear and instead trust Him. It is OK to feel anxious and concerned but we do not need to give into it. We can choose to set our minds on Christ. This is a time when our children need us to do that authentically and honestly. You may want to do this with your (older children) or apart from them before talking with them. I trust that you will prayerfully discern which. But here is a quick anecdote that might help guide you.
After we discussed it at the dinner table the other night, one of my daughters asked me outright: “Daddy, are you afraid of the virus?” I told her no. She said “OK then I am not. When you are afraid that makes me afraid. So if you’re not then I am good.” Our children take their cues from us and they are very perceptive.
Suggestion 2 -- Equip yourself with Scripture. Pick up your sword. When Jesus was tempted after His baptism, the way He modeled for us to deal with temptation and fiery darts from our enemy is to speak truth from Scripture. Here are several verses that are helpful in dealing with fear and anxiety.
There are many more. Check out this link for more suggestions https://www.crosswalk.com/blogs/debbie-mcdaniel/33-verses-to-remind-us--we-do-not-have-to-fear.html
Don’t just read them and think them, speak them out loud. Our words are powerful. When you speak them, you proclaim them and you hear them and faith comes. Even repeat them together throughout the day as a family, lots of times if need be. Choose one or two and put them as signs in your house, on your mirror in the bathroom or over their beds.
Suggestion 3 -- Ask your children to share with you what they are thinking and feeling. Listen. Answer their questions honestly as possible and at an age-appropriate level. Let them lead the discussion.
Suggestion 4 -- Minimize their exposure to the news. They need us to filter for them what is coming. The media can be helpful to be informed but remember that rule number one in media is fear sells and they are for-profit businesses. If you want your children to be more informed, then you tell them about it or perhaps allow them (older children) to see a clip of our leaders speaking. Leaders (like our governor, our president, and vice president) are speaking with calm. It can be good for all of us to see that. Again use discernment but be the filter for your children.
Suggestion 5 -- Draw near to them. Remind them that you are with them. Jesus uses this strategy most often. He deals with fear by reminding us of His presence. Here is one of the best illustrations I have ever seen of this principle from comedian Michael Jr.
Suggestion 6 -- Sing praise songs together. If you are not the singing type. Pull up your favorite praise songs on youtube or discover some new ones. Sing along or just have it playing in the house a bit more throughout these next few weeks. Praising God is a great antidote to fear. We see this throughout the Psalms when David is anxious or upset, he eventually moves towards praise and his attitude changes. Also, in our home we have discovered on more than one occasion music uses other pathways in the brain that can refocus negative thought patterns.
Suggestion 7 -- Start a gratitude discussion routine at the dinner table or in a journal together at bedtime. Gratitude is incredibly helpful in reshaping the direction of our thoughts. It truly allows us to set our mind on things above and fix our eyes on Jesus, two more instructions from Scripture. Have each member of the family say 3 things they are thankful for today. You could even sit down with your child and make a craft or draw and color a picture of something you are thankful for together. Again this activity will help provide perspective in the midst of what can be fearful or difficult.
Suggestion 8 -- Pray together. Our president has declared tomorrow a National Day of Prayer. Join in prayer. Perhaps even gather in a small group in your home and pray with your children. Our children need to see that in times of uncertainty, the followers of Jesus gather together and pray because we trust in God.
Suggestion 9 -- Tell them we are going to get through this together. I told my girls that we are going to go through a weird couple of months and then things will return to normal. It will not always be like this. People are going to do weird things and things are going to close in order to protect more people from getting sick. They don’t have to be afraid as our normal routines change. That is actually a sign that we are doing what we can to protect people from this. I shared with them that this virus is not as dangerous for people who are younger like us and them but we are trying to protect the older people that we love and that is why we are changing things in our society.
Thanks for listening. I hope this is helpful. Feel free to reach out to us over email and we will do what we can to continue to provide guidance and direction.