Perception is Reality
We have all heard stories about children who are afraid there was a monster lurking under their beds - even though their parents assured them otherwise. As adults, we can usually tell the difference between what is real and what is imagined, or can we? For children, the lines between perception and reality are more blurred. For instance, a child may have had what he feels is an unpleasant encounter on the playground and does not want to go to school the next day. He may even use the “stomachache excuse” so as not to have to face the perceived threat.
How can parents know when their child’s imagination is causing anxiety? The best way is by talking to them, listening, and acknowledging the child’s fears. When your child tells you something is bothering him, you may be tempted to say, “It’s just your imagination.” That may well be true, but to your child the threat is real.
So how does a parent get rid of the proverbial monster under the bed? By acknowledging its existence, spraying it with “monster repellent,” and declaring the monster gone.
However, the best thing we can do as Christian parents is to remind our children that Jesus made some promises to us, and he always keeps them. Jesus said, “I am with you always.” It is extremely helpful to remind them how Jesus, who is almighty, is with them and protecting them to keep them safe. Say a prayer with your child reminding Jesus of his promises to us, and ask him to keep the promise for you. Give them a hug and a kiss good-night. Often times, it is as simple as that.
For the older child, it is important to let them know that they are indeed special to you and to God. Yet, at the same time, if they want to grow, they need to learn from mistakes. Sometimes people feel guilty because they are guilty and the conscience is a witness to it. Sometimes coaches give more playing time to others because the other person is more talented. Sometimes students feel like their work is a failure because they did fail. What is important, is to learn what you can and cannot do. It is good to learn at an early age what your limitations are and also to learn that there are some things you can change and others you cannot. But, learning how to deal with failure is a skill we all can improve upon. The better we understand the reality that God loves us and is in charge of all things, the better we are equipped to deal with the monsters in life.