How do you help to alleviate fears children have about the world around them? This Ebola thing has my children really anxious, to the point that it is affecting their schooling.
All children experience fear of something either real or imaginary at some point in their lives. Going well beyond “monster under the bed” fears, the last few decades have brought us fear of nuclear attack, fear of another ice age, and then of global warming, fear of terrorists, fear of war, and now fear of the life-threatening virus called Ebola. These fears can be so strong that they are stifling, causing a lack of focus, insomnia, or other health issues. We see the hurt in our children and want to help them. Well, through prayer, example, education, and action, we can help our children manage their fears.
When your children show a spirit of fearfulness, pray for and with them. Anxiety and fear generally come from distrust in God as provider, protector, and comforter. He will show His strength and love, and promises to not leave us comfortless, if we will just call on and pray to Him. Here are some verses you can reflect on and pray over with your children:
Isaiah 41:10 says, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
Psalms 27:1 says, “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”
Psalms 91:9-10 says, “Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.”
Here are some copywork pages to help retain the verses:
Set an Example – Think Good Thoughts
With so much about Ebola on the news, radio, internet, and even at the dinner table, it is important that parents keep their own emotions in check, filter information, and minimize media exposure, especially for younger and sensitive children. Your children will follow your lead and will react to your anxieties or lack thereof. Teach your children through example to control what they receive in their minds, replacing fearful thoughts with wholesome, Godly thoughts. Philippians 4:6-9 says, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”
Teaching children to think good thoughts does not mean they should bury their heads in the sand. If they ask questions, by all means, calmly and only with enough information as needed, answer their questions. Most fears come from things unknown. While there is still a lot of mystery about how and when Ebola is transmitted (information provided by the CDC changes daily), we are not helpless in what we can do to protect ourselves from it, or any other virus.
Younger children may find the answers they are looking for in these books:
Germs Make Me Sick – Let’s Read-and-Find-Out Book by Melvin Berger
The Magic School Bus Inside Ralphie; A Book About Germs by Joanna Cole
Older children may want more specifics. Here is some brief info that may help you to help your children.
What is it?
Ebola is a disease caused by a virus. A virus is a germ that is so small it can only be seen with a special electron microscope. In general, Ebola viruses are 80 nanometers (nm) in width and may be as long as 14,000 nm, may appear in the shape of a shepherd’s crook, of a “U” or of a “6,” and they may be coiled or branched. The virus lives and grows in living cells.
Where did it come from?
The virus was first identified in Sudan and Zaire, countries in Africa. The current outbreak we hear about on the news is centered in the African countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. While nobody is actually sure how the disease started to spread, it is believed that bush animals including bats and various monkey species carry the virus, and may transfer it to people who eat their meat or eat fruit that these animals have contaminated.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms usually begin between two days and three weeks of contracting the virus. They start out with flu-like symptoms, including fever, sore throat, muscle pain, and headaches. These are often followed by vomiting, diarrhea, swelling, rash, confusions, and internal and/or external bleeding.
How do you get it?
Ebola spreads through the bodily fluids of infected people, including but not limited to blood, saliva, mucus, vomit, urine, sweat, tears or feces. The virus can enter through your nose, mouth, eyes, or open wounds. If an infected person sneezes or coughs, the droplets containing the virus can travel up to 6 feet and contaminate objects such as door handles or toys for up to a few days.
How do you avoid getting it?
Your best defense is to avoid contact with infected people, regularly wash your hands with soap and water, and keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth. It is also a good idea to keep your immune system up to par, eating healthful foods, especially those high in vitamin C. A bleach solution is said to kill the virus.
If you or children want more info, you may find these sites helpful:
Call to Action
We are not helpless. In addition to taking common sense steps to avoid Ebola, we have power over our emotions. 2 Timothy 1:7 says: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” We can use this power over fear to show love by comforting others. Isaiah 35:4 says, “Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; he will come and save you.”
By the time this article is posted, the Ebola scare may be over with a new panic of some sort taking its place. May these steps help bring you and yours from an atmosphere of fear and anxiety to peace and calm, no matter what potential threat lurks about us.