“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10 NKJV)
Watching a group of children playing, one would never suspect that any of them had any fear; yet, many children do have a great many fears. Some of those fears are good since fear actually serves as protection for us. On the other hand, some fears cause harm to children.
What are good fears? What are bad fears? What should parents do to guard against the bad and encourage the good fears?
It is natural for most parents to teach children not to touch a hot stove. It is a good thing to teach children to stay away from a rattlesnake. Teens need to have a fear of hurting someone when learning to drive. Fear of God’s power is also good when we see the lightning flashing and hear the wind blowing during a storm. Children should also have a healthy fear of hell, but at the same time they are taught about hell, they should be taught how to avoid it, and that God does not want to send anyone there.
Bad fears happen when parents quarrel in front of children. The children fear that one of the parents may be hurt or that the family may split. Children may fear that no one loves them. The unbridled tongue of a parent, grandparent, or acquaintance may cause a child to fear. Bad fears happen when parents may tease a child too much in a scary way. A story was shared about a dad and uncle who got on their hands and knees and growled at a toddler until the child was so scared she picked up a hard object to hit them. It was related that the child was overly afraid of many things for years to come because they had done this so often. The dad and uncle thought it was funny, but the child was truly afraid.
Just as some adults get scared more easily than others, so some children are more easily frightened. Good parents are sensitive to a child’s needs and feelings.
We are now living in a society that often promotes fear. When our little ones hear teachers or politicians talk about the world ending because of climate change, they need to be told that God is in charge of the world and its climate. Children need to be helped to focus on what God says, not on what people say. Many people think it is too scary to tell children about hell and yet will allow children to watch extremely scary videos and movies. It is appalling to watch some of the things that children are allowed to see that are not real; yet, they are shielded from the truth of hell that can be avoided through God’s grace.
Children need to know the truth that God’s love does away with fear. A good verse to memorize is, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear,”. 1 John 4:18 (NKJV).