I Need Help!
Ask your kids to complete a job that is too hard for them. (Give them a hard puzzle to complete. Ask them to stack ten blocks without them falling. Give them a hard math problem to complete. The activity should depend on the age and skill of each child.)
As they are trying to complete the task (and continually failing), ask:
How are you feeling about doing what I asked? (Discouraged, mad, frustrated, want to quit, etc.)
We can easily feel discouraged and lose hope when things are hard. We can’t see how we can ever do it. What if I helped you? Would that make it easier? (Work together to complete the assigned task.)
We were able to do a hard job because we worked together. Just as I helped you, God wants to help us with our problems. With God’s help, we can have hope.
Give it to God
Bedtime is a great time to talk about things that might be bothering your child.
So, before bedtime one night this week, find a small box and let your child decorate it, if you like. Glue a piece of paper to the top of the box that says Prayer Box. Ask your child to draw a picture, write out, or dictate what is troubling him or her. Then place the paper inside the box and pray together asking God for help.
Below are a few basic principles to remember when a child seems anxious or depressed:
Know your child. (Is there a sudden change in mood or behavior? Is there a pattern? Pay attention to what upsets him and figure out what helps.)
Listen to your child.
Hold or hug your child.
Tell about a time you were afraid or anxious and what you did—and how your fears sometimes were worse than the actual concern.
Don’t punish the child for being anxious. Validate their feelings and do not tell them they shouldn’t feel that way.
Ask your child’s teachers for help and share your insight with them.
Talk to your child’s doctor if the anxiety persists.
Offer distractions (exercise, games, reading together, etc.).
Pray with your child.
Be patient. What might seem irrational to you is most likely very real to your child.
Help Brings Hope
Lots of books (heavy books for older children)
Ask your child to stand and hand them one book at a time. The books will become heavy. (Be sure to stand close enough to catch the books if necessary.) When the books are almost too heavy for your child, talk to your child about the people and things that can help us when life feels too heavy (family, friends, teachers, pastor, prayer, Bible, doctor). As you mention each help, take one book away. As the load becomes lighter, remind your child how the Lord helps us and wants to carry our worries and sadness.
Read 1 Peter 5:7 and Matthew 11:28-30 and discuss how help from the Lord brings us hope!