Every parent wants their children to be happy. This is why it’s so unsettling to discover that a child is struggling with anxiety. But did you know that 40 million adults (and 1 in 8 children) suffer from anxiety? (1) Anxiety in children is a real issue that millions of families face.
Defined as “an uncomfortable feeling of worry about something that is happening or might happen” (2); anxiety can overwhelm children, impacting them mentally, emotionally and even physically. If left unchecked, it can steal a child’s peace, joy and self-confidence. The question every parent faces is “how can I help?”
There are many perspectives on how to best combat anxiety, but for thousands of years, people have seen miraculous life change through the power of Scripture. Unlike other books, the Bible is not a collection of wise sayings compiled by ancient philosophers. Instead, the Bible is unique to all other historical writings in that it is God’s Word to man.
In Hebrews 4:12, we are told: “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
When a person opens their heart to the Bible’s message, they will come to discover life-changing truth about themselves, their struggles and the God who loves them. More importantly, they will find living and powerful hope that can transform their life. Anxiety in children is a real issue and the Bible offers real solutions.
Seven Ways To Help Anxiety In Children
If your child is caught in the throes of anxiety, consider sharing the following Bible verses with them. You’ll be amazed at the wisdom and hope they offer.
1) Trust In The Lord | Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
Source of Anxiety: An inability to understand what’s going on in and around us can feed anxiety. As children grow, many face confusing changes, such as: insecurity, divorced parents, bullying and failure. It’s natural to try and figure out why these things are happening, but many times, there are no immediate answers. This lack of understanding can unsettle our children and allow worry to take hold.
Scripture’s Promise: Proverbs 3:5-6 encourages us to not depend on our own understanding. There are some things we simply can’t figure out. However, God offers a way out of our confusion. If we will commit our heart to him and seek his will, God promises to show us the way forward. We may not get all our questions answered, but we will find peace of mind and heart as we follow him.
2) Tell God What You Need | Philippians 4:6-7
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done; then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
Source of Anxiety: How does your child filter the things they think and feel? Thoughts and emotions are powerful influences and it is critical that we find healthy ways to process them. Anxiety flourishes when our hearts and minds are left unguarded. All of us need help processing our inner voice, the things we say to ourselves as we experience life. If left to ourselves, this inner voice often leads us to dark and troubling conclusions.
Scripture’s Promise: In Philippians 4:6-7, we are told to exchange self-talk for God-talk. Instead of worrying to ourselves, we are to let God know everything we need. God is not intimidated by our fears. He is not embarrassed by our struggles. God loves us and if we choose to share our needs with him in prayer, he promises to give us peace guarding our hearts and minds in Jesus. With God’s help, peace can rule over every unsettled thought and feeling we experience.
3) Nothing Can Separate You From God’s Love | Romans 8:38-39
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Source of Anxiety: The most basic of human needs is to be deeply and unconditionally loved. If a child questions that they are loved, or that they could stop being loved, it undermines every other part of their life. As a parent, there is only so much we can do to meet this need. All of us are made in the image of God and there is a love we crave that only he can fulfill.
Scripture’s Promise: In Romans 8:38-39, the apostle Paul records some of the most uplifting words on love ever penned. In these verses, we are told that the love of God is unending, unstoppable and indestructible. When a heart belongs to Jesus, that life is secure in an eternal love that supersedes all other worries and fears.
4) Jesus Will Give You Rest | Matthew 11:28-30
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
Source of Anxiety: When a child opens up to a parent, it can be surprising to learn about the burdens their young hearts carry: guilt over past choices, fears of harm and worries about the future. Life is difficult for us all, children included. Our children can feel like Atlas, carrying the weight of the world on their little shoulders. If this weight is not lifted, anxiety is the result.
Scripture’s Promise: In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus uses the imagery of livestock to offer us hope. As an oxen toils endlessly under a heavy yoke, so too do we labor under the stresses of life. To those of us who have grown weary of our burdens, Jesus makes this offer: “Come to me…and I will give you rest.” No matter the burden, Jesus has the answer. The first step is to open your heart and come to him in faith.
5) Jesus Gives Peace That Is Not Of This World | John 14:27
“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”
Source of Anxiety: When friends, family or circumstances let children down, the resulting disappointment can be a major source of anxiety. If we can’t trust the people or things we were counting on, then what hope is there? In the end, there is a reality we all must face: life will let us down. People fail us. Circumstances never go according to plan. So where can we find peace?
Scripture’s Promise: In John 14, Jesus speaks to his disciples about leaving them and returning to heaven. To bring comfort, he lets them know that he will leave them with an incredible gift: the Holy Spirit. Because of this, God would always be near and in their hearts. God will never let us down. Nor will he ever leave or forsake us. With his Holy Spirit in our hearts, we can have a peace that nothing else in this world can offer.
6) The Power Of Kind Words To Heal | Proverbs 12:25
Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.
Source of Anxiety: We grow where we are planted. If we are in a negative environment, anxiety is the fruit we will bare. In a world filled with cyber-bullying and cruel social media posts, our children need to find words that are filled with truth, encouragement and life. A core truth of the Bible is that words matter. They can either bring life or destroy, bring peace or worry.
Scripture’s Promise: The proverbs are profound in their simplicity, the truth they share is obvious, direct and immediate. Proverbs 12:25 is a case in point: kind words cheer a heart up. As a parent, kind words are something we should strive daily to share with our children. But even if we fail, the Word of God offers an endless supply of life-giving truth. Make time every day to read the Bible with your children and help keep their heart from getting weighed down.
7) Humble Yourself Before God | 1 Peter 5:6-8
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
Source of Anxiety: When facing any trouble in this life, it’s key to remember that there is always a spiritual element at play. That is not to say that there is a devil behind every bush, but there is a real enemy who is determined to see our children fail. As parents, it is imperative that we not leave our children to fend for themselves against this enemy. Anxiety has a spiritual facet to it so our children must be equipped for spiritual warfare.
Scripture’s Promise: The good news of 1 Peter 5:6-8 is that God promises to fight our battles for us, spiritual and otherwise. Our role in this battle is humility. We must come to a place where we acknowledge our limitations and trust God to do what we cannot. Humility is not weakness, rather it is the foundation of our relationship with God. If your child is struggling with anxiety, humbly come to God in prayer and cast your cares before him. As you do this, you will discover how much God cares for you and your child!
8) Do Not Worry About Tomorrow | Matthew 6:25-34
This bonus passage of scripture is the foundation of our newest Sharefaith Kids lesson “Do Not Worry.” This lesson is a powerful reminder that God promises to care care of all our needs.
Source of Anxiety: The fear of tomorrow can be a major source of anxiety. Many times our children can become so consumed with what might happen tomorrow that they lose the ability to enjoy the life they have been given today.
Scripture’s Promise: In this passage Jesus encourages us to look at the example of nature. If God so lovingly cares for birds and flowers, how much more will he provide for his own children? As we fix our mind on God’s goodness today we will find freedom from the fears of tomorrow.
Anxiety in children is a serious issue. As a parent, it is important to explore all available sources of help. These can include counseling, medical doctors and support groups. Equally important is searching God’s Word for spiritual healing and direction.