A lesson for kids on fear is timeless because all children are familiar with fear. Fear blocks their view of God’s greatness and draws all their attention toward the challenge they are facing. Fear robs them of joy and peace making them feel utterly powerless. The experience below is designed to help the children in your group to do two things: 1) to own their fears by admitting them to the group and 2) to disown their fears by surrendering them to Jesus.
DISCUSSION STARTER: STRESS-O-METER
Fasten the “Stress-o-Meter” to the whiteboard where everyone can easily see it.
Explain to the students that this poster depicts some of the biggest stress factors—things that make many kids feel anxious and fearful.
Go over each stress factor to make sure everyone clearly understands what they are.
Give each student a sheet with 12 dot stickers. Ask them to look over the sources of anxiety on the poster and distribute their sticker dots in proportion to the level of stress they experience from various factors.
For example, if when they think about the future, they really worry about losing a loved one (think about it often and lose peace over it) they may want to put 5 or even 6 stickers next to it. If they occasionally worry about getting a bad grade, they might put two stickers next to it. If they never or hardly ever worry about being picked on by bullies, they can put just one sticker next to it or none at all. The stress factors listed on the poster are:
Once everyone has placed their dot stickers on the chart, count the dots together and determine the top three fears. Give students a chance to offer comments and talk about some of their fears. Ask if there any other fears that they’re experiencing which are not mentioned in the chart. When we did this activity with the children in our church, they were extremely open and brought up the following fears: doing something new, riding a rollercoaster, going to bed (having bad dreams), things that they can’t control, pets (losing a pet, being bit by one), future, viruses on devices, siblings (annoying, being mean, losing their things).
You always want to start with where the kids are and give them a chance to voice their fears. For some children this type of vulnerability might seem scary and threatening, however don’t rush to save them and make things easier for them. Real change happens only when we become real. You don’t want to force them to talk, yet you do want to make them feel comfortable and safe making it easier for them to be real about their inner thoughts and feelings.
If children are eager to openly talk about their fears, take it as an indication that this topic is relevant to them and impacts them in a very profound and personal way. If they hesitate to talk, it’s a signal that either they’re not interested in this topic (very unlikely) or that they don’t feel safe enough to openly talk about their inner world (more likely). Take note of their responses and be sure to work on improving the emotional climate in your group. Emotional safety is foundational for heart-to-heart conversations.
REAL LIFE EXAMPLE: PERSONAL TESTIMONY
Now that the children are thinking and talking about fears, it’s time to build a bridge between where they are at now (FEARFUL) and where you want them to be (FEARLESS). One of the best ways to accomplish this is to have one of the teachers share a real-life story of how they overcame their childhood fear. Real life stories are very powerful and kids connect well with them. A real life example will give children a picture of a life that’s not held back by fear and will inspire them to overcome their own fears.
Note: When choosing a personal story to share, make sure that it is age-appropriate and that it specifically deals with the topic you’re exploring.
LIFE APPLICATION: SAFE IN GOD’S ARMS
The opening activity encouraged children to identify some areas where fear controls them. And through the personal testimony, you gave children hope that they too can overcome their fears. Now it’s time to help them take the final step—releasing their fears to God.