I can’t remember a time when I was afraid of thunderstorms. Instead I remember delighting in scanning the stormy sky for the lightning and counting the seconds until I heard the thunder.
However, I have a feeling that at one time, in my preschool past, I may have been afraid of the boom and crack of a thunderstorm.
I think that because I have a very vivid memory of flashlights and candlelight and sitting with my little brother at our kid-sized table eating jello. I know it was during a thunderstorm because the electricity had failed, but I can’t remember the storm itself. I just remember my mom making a big deal out of using candles and of having an unexpected treat of jello.
Fear is big for kids. It may be senseless, irrational fear like being afraid of the strange shapes in a dark bedroom when the house creaks a little bit. Or it may be fear of something very real and very threatening like a crashing thunderstorm. Whether we, as parents, understand a child’s fear or not, we must do all we can to help them control and conquer their fears.
My mom’s way of helping me and my little brother was just to distract us. Most likely she never foresaw that I would forever link jello and thunderstorms together, but she was trying to take our minds off something scary and focus our thoughts on something fun. Distracting kids is an effective way of helping them to overcome their fears.
However…there’s something even better.
When my own children were little, I realized that God has given us two very effective weapons to put into the hands of our little people when they are afraid.
Number one weapon is prayer. Children are amazing when it comes to prayer. Adults can pray about their fears and still come away afraid. Kids can pray about their fears and lay down and go to sleep. They believe – they believe so much more than we think they do. So, sure, you can explain the science behind the thunderstorm and hope that will settle their fears. Or you can invite your child to talk to the God who made the thunderstorm and to ask for His protection.
Number two weapon is the Word of God. It is so true that God’s Word is a sword. We can give our kids the picture of using the sword to ward off their fears and then we can take advantage of their amazing memories. Teach your children verses that they can unsheathe when thunder rocks the house or when the house is perfectly quiet except for that one unexplained creak. Try these:
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? Psalm 56:3-4
He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. Psalm 112:7
The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? Psalm 118:6
Yes, jello distracted my brother and me from being frightened during a thunderstorm and distractions may work for your kids too. But think about how wonderful it would be to arm your children with the weapons of prayer and the Word of God so that they can face their fears.
And not just face them, but to conquer them.