Category Archives: Fear in Children

Fear of Dogs


I am a lover of dogs.  We have been dog owners for most of our lives.  At this moment in our lives we are not.  We are the proud grandparents of  3 granddogs!   I adore them.  One of the dogs is a puppy that I want to bring home and call my own.  My entire family knows that I long to have a golden retriever. I have been begging for one for months.   You might wonder why I have a hankering for such a big dog.  Well…here’s the story.

Twenty-some years ago my family lived in Louisville, Kentucky.   My husband was pastoring 2 churches in rural Indiana.  One afternoon we were having a leisurely lunch at a parishoner’s home.  The boys were in the yard playing with the family’s children.  Suddenly our older son came dashing into the house in great distress to inform us that our younger son had been attacked by the family’s dog.  It was a severe dog bite.  We had to be transported to the Louisville Children’s Hospital which was an hour away, where an extraordinary plastic surgeon did a miraculous job on our son.

The event was horrific!.  Our son had been reaching down to pet the dog and the animal attacked him.   We were a family with 2 dogs and a cat and our kids knew to stay away from strange dogs, but this was a family dog in the back yard.  It was confusing and hard to fathom.  For a while I hated dogs.  I was angry, and hurt.  Our son was traumatized by the entire incident.    Not only was the bite difficult, but going to school and having to explain about being bit on the face and about all of his stitches was tough.  We had only lived in Louisville for a less than a year, and so he hadn’t had time to make a lot of friends.  Some of the kids in his class were not very encouraging and would embarrass him by making unkind comments.  It was rough going for a while.

One overcast day our son came home from school with a companion.  I was quite taken aback by this huge, hairy creature, who looked as big as a lion, yet his big brown eyes and wagging tail showed me he was as gentle as a teddy bear.   Our son began retelling the scenario of what had happened.  He had gotten off of the school bus. There was a huge golden retriever waiting at the bus stop.   As be began to walk home, the dog followed him home.  Our son immediately fell in love with the dog.  The golden retriever was the epitome of love and kindness, as docile as could be.  But, we knew that he had to belong to someone, even though he had no tags.  We searched and searched for his owner, but could not find him, so we decided to keep the dog.  Our son named him, Ralph.  Ralph was our healing angel from the Lord.  The Lord sent Ralph to bring healing to our son and to me from the shadows of fear and pain to the light of God’s amazing grace.

Sometimes we go through a painful situation and because it is so difficult we feel as if God has forgotten us.  Remember that He never promised us that living in this world would be easy.  In fact, He said the opposite.  He said that in this world we would have tribulations, but to take courage, for He has overcome the world.  He would be with us through every storm.  He would be there to encourage us, to strengthen us, to guide us, to counsel us, to help us in every way, to even carry us when we can’t take another step.  For our son, He sent an angel dog when the going got rough.

“I will not forget you!  See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.”  states Isaiah 49:16

Now it is important to have boundaries with strange dogs.  Here are some resources that you may have interest in:

How to Conquer Your Fear of Dogs

Seven Ways to Encourage a Child Not to Fear Dogs

Canine Concerns – How to Help Children Who Fear Dogs

May God keep you in the palm of His hand,

Debra Smith

 

Fearlessness


If you have been reading my posts, last week’s topic focused on the perception of fear, a subject that I could readily relate to.  How many of you have had a child who was the opposite- fearless?  That is another “fish to fry”!!  My goodness,  as a parent, you don’t want your children to be afraid, but at the same time you don’t want your child so unaware of any danger that the child plunges in head-first and is injured.

Here am I, the Queen of Fears, giving birth to my first child, who was the King of Fearlessness!  Go figure!  How in the world does that work out? Do the math, it just doesn’t compute!  Yet, in God’s plan it does!

My first child was a child born from prayer.  I had been trying to conceive for years.  The doctor had stoically told me that I would not be able to have children.  His words caused me great pain and agony.  My greatest desire in life had been to be a mother.  I had prayed, prayed, and prayed some more.  I was a member of a prayer group that had prayed with me about this situation.  I constantly read a plethora of books about prayer.  My favorite author at that time was Catherine Marshall. She had written about the Prayer of Relinquishment.  She had been bed-ridden for a year with tuberculosis.  After praying for healing for a year, she finally threw up her hands to the Lord and prayed “Lord if it is your will for me to be sick on this bed for the rest of my life, I will agree to it.  I give my will to yours.  You make the decision for me.  I leave it in your hands.”  She called this prayer “The Prayer of Relinquishment”, where she gave her will, her desires, up to God and let Him make the final decision.

So, in following Catherine’s model, I finally gave my hopes, and dreams of being a mother up to God and told Him that I was leaving it all in His hands.   If He didn’t want me to be a mother I wouldn’t be, but I asked Him to take the desire away from me, if that was to be the case.   It was the most difficult prayer that I have ever prayed.

A few weeks later was Mother’s Day.  One of my prayer group buddies sidled up to me at church with a bunch of pink roses clutched in her hands.  She handed me the lovely bouquet of delicate rose buds.  There were 3 light pink rose buds surrounding a 4th bud in the middle.  She leaned over to me with tears in her eyes.   She whispered that God had revealed to her that morning in her quiet time to go out to her garden.  She was to pick the  specific roses and give them to me as His promise that I would be a mother on the next Mother’s Day.  How ecstatic I was!

God was true to His promise; I was a mother that next Mother’s Day!  When my son was born I gave him to God, as Hannah did in the Bible.  I knew that he was not my own, but that He was Gods.  He was truly a gift from God.  Therefore, when he was born as a fearless child, I knew that fearlessness was a special quality that the Lord had given him for His purposes. Hence, I had to learn how to deal with it, no matter if I was the Queen of Fearfulness or not.  Funny thing, dealing with fearlessness helped me deal with my fearfulness.  Interesting how that worked!

As my son would want to run into the water at the beach or jump in the pool, I had to teach boundaries and limits.   He was always ready to go to the farthest extent of the boundaries and limits.  I had no idea what that was like, growing up as a compliant little girl, who was afraid to put her toe in the water.  But, I found out quick enough.  I was off into a new life of adventure, one that I had never even contemplated.  You see I had this nice little picturesque image of what motherhood was going to be like.  Yet, God changed my vision and gave me an exciting new vision.  A fearless older son, who taught his younger brother how to be fearless, as well.  I think that my boys probably participated in every sport available to them, except wrestling.  (They had enough experience with that at home!) They did all the others.  We were at the pool, the gym, the baseball field, football field, lacrosse field, and track, and then at Young Life and church.  Life was packed to the brim with constant activity.  So, I had to have a new way of looking at life and risk.  My boys certainly didn’t sit quietly at home.  We had many visits to the ER with injuries.  This seemed par for the course for a mom of two active boys.  I learned about a whole new side of life that I had never experienced- athletics, taking risks, working on teams, and the logistics of being on a team. I saw how being on a team helped my sons learn how to work with other people and how to get along with others.  They learned sportsmanship, how to be a good winner, and a good loser, how to be a good leader, and a good follower, how to follow the rules of the game, how to listen and follow directions, how to have good physical fitness, and how working hard and putting in practice hours paid back a good benefit.  They also learned that often the game and the other team and the umps were not fair.  Life is not fair. That is a hard lesson to learn, but it is true.  The apostle Paul in Philippians 4: 12-13 states, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

When my older son was the quarterback of the football team in high school I used to go and walk around the track of the field before the game and pray for him and for the guys on the team, that none of them would be seriously hurt.  I would pray  Joshua 1:9  “Be strong and take courage.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will go before you and He will be with you wherever you go.”  I’ll never forget going to one field to pray when it was the school’s Homecoming game.  The school had crafted papier-mache tombstones and placed them around the field with all of our high school player’s names on them.  When I saw my son’s name I almost choked and began sobbing. I have never been so struck by the ruthlessness of competition.  I was crushed, demoralized.  Part of me yearned to prevent him from playing the next day, yet in my spirit I knew that I dare not say a word.   I was convinced that my job was to pray as fervently as possible for his well-being and for the team’s safety.  It was also obvious that prayer was necessary for the team’s mentality when they saw the tombstones as they marched into the stadium.  I prayed that it would affect them differently than it affected me. My prayer was that when the tombstones were revealed that they would become fearless warriors.

My older son has continued a life of fearlessness.  He has persevered through many trials, and he has not given up.  He has been called by the Lord to be a pastor and an evangelist.   He has made following Jesus his number one priority, even when it hasn’t been easy.  I am so proud of him and his commitment to sharing his faith with the lost;  being a trailblazer who is making a difference in this world.

Below is the name of a book that was recommended to me as a good one to read, citing the importance of having the emotion of fear in our lives.  Fear does have a purpose.  It does protect us from stepping out of the boundaries that we should not cross.  It is a healthy kind of fear to keep us safe.  God has placed within us a discernment of knowing what is right and what is wrong.  He desires to grow that discernment as to aid us in making wise decisions throughout our lives.  In Psalm 34:4 David states;  “I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.”  I know that the Lord has rescued me from my fears.

The Gift of Fear

Helping Your Child Take Risks

Fearless Child

May God keep you in the palm of His hand,

Debra Smith

How Do You Handle This Emotion Called FEAR ?


Yikes! This is not an emotion that we like to talk about, yet it is one that we all experience.  In this month of October, as we near the end of the month and the holiday of Halloween, the topic of “fear” tends to come up.  So, I thought I’d jump right on in and address the topic.

In July, while I was babysitting  five of my grandchildren, one of the girls started crying and was afraid.  This all occurred at bedtime, as I was tucking two of my little darlings in.  I lingered by their bed-side and listened as the one darling explained to me the things that she was afraid of:  being away from Mommy and Daddy, being in the dark, and not sleeping in her own bedroom. Then I chatted with the girls about fear.  The most important thing that I wanted to impart  was that God was with them wherever they were; even at Nana and Poppy’s house, even in a different bedroom, and even in the dark.  I wanted them to know that God was with their Mom and Dad, as well, because I knew they were missing their parents. Then we prayed that God would be with them as they were sleeping, and that He would help them not be afraid.  As we prayed, I could sense God’s presence overcoming the fear and the tension in their bodies, so that after our prayer time they felt much better and went right to sleep.

Well, the very next day I had all of my wonderful grandchildren to myself.  We had a bright and cheery morning; playing games, drawing pictures, and playing with play doh.  We had a tea party for our snack.  Poppy came home for lunch to check on me.  He wanted to make sure that I was doing o.k. since I had recently had my 3rd hip surgery, and 2nd hip replacement.  I continued to have hip restrictions due to having my hip coming out of its socket in April.  The grandkids knew that Nana couldn’t bend very well or get on the floor.  They were so fantastic in helping me, yet I still had five children under the age of 7.

In the afternoon around 4:00 I decided to lie down on the couch for 10 minutes to rest while my two youngest were still napping.  When I tried to get up my hip came out of its socket. Excruciating pain!!  What was I to do? I rolled off of the couch onto the floor, hoping that I was mistaken and hoping that when I hit the floor that I would be able to move my leg into place.  No such luck!!  I couldn’t move my body at all. “What time I am afraid I will trust in you.” God’s own words were coming back to me at my time of need.  Just what I had been telling the girls last night when they were afraid- trust in God 

My greatest fear at the time was that my grandkids would be afraid when they saw me in this condition; when they saw Nana in distress and pain. My dilemma right now was that my husband was not at home and I didn’t have my cell phone with me.  It was charging on the kitchen counter.  Thankfully, when I called out to my two oldest grandkids, and they retrieved the phone for me to call my husband, they were not rattled at all.   My husband and friends sped over to care for me.  They scooted the kids down to the basement, as 911 was called and the paramedics rushed to the scene.  A fire truck arrived in the next few moments.  With both paramedics and firefighters involved, the men lifted up my twisted body upon the rolling stretcher and hauled me aboard the ambulance.  The grandkids came upstairs just in time to see the firetruck which thrilled them, but not to witness any of Nana’s pain as I was lifted and moved.  My paramedics were so gracious, traveling as slowly as they could, because every bump in the road jarred my body and brought on another spasm of pain.  I finally arrived at the hospital, and after a grueling 11 hours I finally had my hip set back in place.

Interestingly enough, the next day when I gathered the children together, they were fine.  They didn’t seem to have been frightened by the experience at all!  I had the opportunity of telling them that God had taken care of them in a scary situation by sending friends who took care of them in the basement while Nana was being taken care of by the paramedics. I pointed out that God was also taking care of me by the paramedics, and by the kids getting me the phone.  We talked about how good God was in helping us when we were afraid.

Fear plagued me as a child.  I was a shy, introverted little girl, who was afraid of her own shadow.  I would just bottle up those feelings and keep them stuffed down inside.  I used to have nightmares, and as a result of that I began having insomnia.  Not a good thing to have to be dealing with.   A friend helped me use my favorite scripture that I had memorized to help me overcome my fears at night.  Praise God it worked!  Praying the 23rd Psalm over and over again when I was afraid would cause my fears to subside.

 Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul; He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

God was so good to me.  Later I found that there were times that the dark shadows made me fearful.  The wonderful thing that happened was that as I had been praying and giving my fears to the Lord, He showed me the windows in my room and the places where the wood crosses in the window pane looked  like a cross.  When I saw the shadows, God would remind me of the window panes and the cross.  The cross and Jesus.  Jesus was there with me.  God was giving me something visual to see when I was afraid.  I have to say that He took away my fears.  Praise the Lord!  He will help you and your child with fear issues, as well.

When I had my own family and my sons had issues with fears, we always talked about how God was with us and prayed for His presence to be with them in the room.  I bought cross night-lights to remind them that Jesus was there with them.  That gave them great comfort.  I would also read to them Bible stories where they learned about God and His love and power.  The boys loved the stories and often read and reread the books until they fell asleep. We also memorized simple Bible verses about fear, such as:

Genesis 26:24  “Do not be afraid, for I am with you.”

Psalm 56:3 “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.”

These were simple verses for little ones to memorize and recall at times of fearfulness.

Items that are now available that can be useful for children with fears at night are sound machines.  These machines will keep out other noises that can be scary and give a constant sound that helps kids sleep more soundly.  They come in various models, from just the machine, to now coming in stuffed animals that the children can hold in their beds.  My grandchildren have loved these.  There are also machines that are toys that shine a pattern of lights on the ceiling.  It is a form of a nightlight.  I bought one for my grandson and he loved it!

Here are several links about fear that you may find beneficial.

http://get-your-baby-to-sleep.com/soothers-and-sound-machines/

https://chrysalishouseinc.wordpress.com/2014/07/31/doodle-therapy-a-worry-box/

http://www.p31bookstore.com/products/it-will-be-okay-trusting-god-through-fear-and-change

May God keep you in the palm of His hand,

Debra Smith