The years 2020 through 2021 have been a difficult season for all of us collectively. No one has been immune from the challenges. This pandemic and the ensuing quarantining, life changes, and stress have had an impact on everyone. It has caused way too much fear and anxiety for many of us.
Our children are affected as well, and how they fair from this time depends on us, their parents, and grandparents, and how we respond to the challenges.
Tough times like this provide the opportunity to teach our children how to stay positive, to persevere, and to find hope in challenging times.
Life lessons to share with your children in this season:
1. Teach them the importance of sharing their feelings when they’re struggling.
Be authentic with your children, share how you’re feeling even when you’re sad. This teaches them to be open and share their feelings with you as well. When feelings are stuffed and kept secret in challenging times, negative emotions can begin to erode our joy and contentment in life.
Children long to feel loved and understood. Validate their feelings and show them that you care by being an approachable, empathetic listener. As you do this, you’ll be teaching them to behave similarly.
Learning to share their emotions with loved ones is a life skill that will continue into future relationships and will help them cope better with life and manage tough times better in the future.
2. Teach your children that emotions can be irrational and undependable, so we should not base decisions on them.
When life is hard, emotions can sometimes overtake our rational mind and lead us to think thoughts that aren’t true. We can’t let our emotions dictate our life and future.
In these uncertain times, our anxiety and fear might lead us to think that the stress of the COVID pandemic will never go away, and life will never be good again. The truth is that pandemics have come and gone in history. God is in control, so we can trust Him to get us through this.
3. Teach your children to maintain a sense of humor even in trying times.
Learning to laugh even during trials can help you cope with stress. Laughter relaxes the whole body, triggers a release of endorphins, lowers stress hormones, boosts immunity, improves your mood, eases anxiety, and adds joy to life. If you need some ideas on how to promote laughter in your family, check out these websites: Playtivities.com or the chaosandtheclutter.com
My husband and I adopted two puppies in 2020 and they have helped us laugh even during tough times. I’m not necessarily recommending getting TWO puppies, it has also kept us remarkably busy!
4. Teach your child about God and help them come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
The Bible says that there is no one righteous, we’re all sinners separated from a Holy God. But God loves us too much to allow that separation to continue. He sent Christ to pay the penalty for our sins and make a way for our relationship with Him to be restored. (John 3:16) This is the most important thing we can teach our children – to have faith in Jesus Christ, encouraging them to trust in God’s forgiveness for their sins through Jesus’ death on the cross.
Research indicates that those who have spiritual practices manage better in times of stress and trauma. Faith, prayer, worship and trusting God all help us cope with stress. Faith gives us a sense of purpose and helps us find meaning in difficult circumstances. Studies show that knowing there is a God who loves us and cares about us and our needs has positive effects on people emotionally, mentally, and physically. ISRN Psychiatry
5. Teach your children to look at God’s Word for hope and truth.
We need to compare our thoughts and emotions to the truths of God’s Word. When emotions tell us God doesn’t care, God’s word reminds us that He does. (Psalm 55:22 and John 3:16)
When emotions tell us God is not in control, God’s word tells us that He is. (Colossians 1:16-17 and I Timothy 6:15)
When emotions tell us God has forgotten us, Hebrews 13:5 tells us that He will never leave us or forsake us.
If you have a child that tends to wallow in sadness and self-pity, show them scriptures about how God wants us to find His joy in our lives, reminding them that we can choose to focus on the negative or on the truths of God’s Word.
Help your children learn to check their emotions and thoughts against the truths of God’s Word.
6. Help your children develop an attitude of gratitude in all circumstances.
Scientific studies show that being grateful helps us mentally, physically, and psychologically.
“Gratitude increases mental strength. For years, research has shown gratitude not only reduces stress, but it may also play a major role in overcoming trauma…Recognizing all that you have to be thankful for —even during the worst times—fosters resilience.”Psychology Today
Gratefulness can be cultivated in our children in so many ways. Check out this blog post on gratefulness for some ideas.
7. Help your children learn that life is full of uncertainties and things we can’t control.
Because of Adam and Eve and their sin in the garden of Eden, we no longer live in the perfect world that God created. Sin and Satan cause problems in the world today. Because of this, we all will have tough times in our lives, it’s part of being human. Life can be unpredictable and there are often things that are out of our control. This is a valuable lesson for our children to learn.
Yes, life is full of uncertainties, but we know the One who is in control: Our Heavenly Father!
Scripture is full of passages that speak to God’s power and control in our world today.
And He loves us, and scripture says we can bring our cares and worries to Him, and He will help us.
Here are some of the hopeful promises in God’s Word:
- In challenging times, we have His promises that he will never leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5, Deuteronomy 31:6)
- He also promises that we can cast our cares on Him because He cares for us. (I Peter 5:7)
- If we go to Him in prayer, He promises us His peace that passes all understanding. (Phil.4:5-7)
- Our hope is in God and His love is unfailing. (Psalm 33:20-22)
- God will lead and guide us, and He is our refuge. (Psalm 31:3-5)
- God is faithful, compassionate, and He loves us (Lamentations 3:22-23)
I encourage you to pray for God to help your children find hope and learn to cope in tough times, and that they will be able to count it all joy no matter what the circumstances.
Actually, let’s pray that for ourselves too, I suspect we all need God’s help in this!
If you have any other suggestions for helping your child develop perseverance and stay positive in trying times, please share in the comments. I love to hear what others have found helpful!