Children, just like adults, will go through periods of doubt. Disbelief is the lot of the non-Christian, periods of doubt is the experience of the Christian. So expect that your children will go through periods of doubt just like you.
|#2||Be merciful to those who doubt (Jude 1:22).
Our response to anyone experiencing doubt should always be mercy. Sometimes the way children express things can be very cute or at times sound funny, but taking their issues seriously is important. Be careful not to belittle or make light of a child’s doubts.
When your child expresses doubts (e.g. God’s existence, the Bible being true, the resurrection of Jesus, etc.) stay calm. Children feel their parents’ anxiety and this can make them feel uncomfortable. Our anxiety can deter them from sharing their doubts in the future.
It often takes a child a long time to express their thoughts. Try to understand them before responding.
Reassure them that doubting is is normal. Children often think there is something wrong with them if they’re unsure of something Mum and Dad think is true. Take them to heroes like David, Job and Thomas, all whom went through periods of doubt.
|#6||Encourage expression of doubt.
Encourage your child to express their doubts by encouraging questions. Doubts will continue to grow if not expressed and encouraging questions is one way of helping children express doubts.
|#7||Remember the reality of fear.
Fears are very real for children. Night terrors, fear of the dark, fear of being alone, fear of the green and yellow monster under the bed, etc. Encourage your child to talk to their Father in Heaven about their fears and doubts. Sometimes this will mean children end up with a prayer that reads like a shopping list of all the things that terrify them. However, speaking them out loud to their Father in Heaven is great and reflects what people do in the Bible (just check out the psalms!). They will eventually grow out of the mantra style as their fears subside and their prayers will begin to vary.
|#8||Teach the scriptures.
Teach your child verses from scripture that address their fears or doubts. Put them on the fridge or their bedroom walls, say them, chant them, sing them as you drive to school, remind them as they fall asleep (e.g. Proverbs 3:5–6, Psalm 18:2, Psalm 56:3–4, Psalm 118:6, James 1:5–8, 1 John 4:18).
|#9||Share your own fears.
Appropriately share your fears and doubts with your child, and what you found helpful.
Read books that address fears and doubts appropriate for your child. For example, The Storm That Stopped, by Alison Mitchell is a great retelling of Mark 4 where Jesus asks his disciples, ‘Why are you afraid?’ We are reminded that we have nothing to fear because our trust is in Jesus, God’s Son. Or, for older children, the books listed below by Lee Strobel are a great start in addressing doubts.
Hunt, Susan and Hunt, Richie, Big Truths for Little Kids (Wheaton, ILL: Crossway, 1999). This is a helpful book that answers big questions that kids ask, such as ‘Did Jesus really come back from the dead?’ ‘Where is God?’ etc.).
Strobel, Lee and Suggs, Rob, The Case for a Creator (Grand Rapids: Zonderkidz, 2004).
Strobel, Lee and Suggs, Rob, The Case for Christ for Kids (Grand Rapids: Zonderkidz, 2006).
This is the third article (see here for 1 and 2) in this short series of articles on ministry to children. Like the previous article, this one first appeared on Sandy’s website: Kidswise, where this series on Ten Tips continues.