By: Amy Dalke
During my school age years, I was ecstatic for every first day of school. Which probably comes as no surprise to you.
This thrill was based on a love for new clothes, a fresh box of crayons/markers/pens, and a fashionable TrapperKeeper. (And not much has changed, except the TrapperKeeper.)
When I became a mother, I assumed my child would automatically share this excitement for school. But no. Not at all.
Therefore you can understand my chagrin when school supply shopping fails to conjure up any sort of happy feelings in Luke. In fact, he would rather clean toilets than shop for anything (also puzzling to me); and the very mention of the first day of school brings a wave of anxiety.
This annual event is officially #74 on my list of Things I Assumed About Motherhood That Are Actually Just the Opposite. So when Luke’s first day of Kindergarten rolled around, his fear was absolutely foreign to me. I had NO CLUE how to handle his mega-anxiety about school.
Technically, his very first day of Kindergarten was great. We took his picture in front of our house, posted it on Facebook per the usual, and eagerly walked into the classroom to greet his teacher and find his seat. (The only tears shed that day were mine because that’s how I roll sometimes.)
The second day all fear broke loose, and by the third day, my sweet 5 year old had to be peeled from my arms by a teacher’s aide. I distinctly remember his heart-wrenching, terror-filled cries as she carried him away from me, “Mommy, please. Please don’t leave me! Please…!!!”
Needless to say, I sobbed all the way to my office for five straight days which was just awesome. And thus, the first day of school officially became my least favorite day of the year.
Frankly, it was more like the first weeks of school that I came to dread because they represented a string of of sad mornings filled with Luke’s pleas for home school (What-huh?) and red, tear-streaked faces for both of us.
And so it went through 1st and 2nd grade. Days and days of Luke’s fretful, anxious tears, coupled with my own emotions that boomeranged from sadness and defeat to frustrated anger. It was basically insanity all over the place, and that’s an understatement.
Then last year, Luke sheepishly (and tearlessly!) accepted the start of 3rd grade; and he only had a couple of random anxiety-ridden mornings all year long. (Thank you, Lord.)
Today…he heads off to 4th grade. And y’all, he’s excited. For the first time ever, he has confidently talked about the upcoming year. He’s even fixed his hair the last five days in preparation. (Which is a whole new thing in itself.) (Don’t ask, because I don’t know.)
So what changed? And why am I telling you?
Well I wish I could share a formula that spells out all the things Larry and I did right in parenting to overcome Luke’s anxiety. But that would just be a joke.
Instead, I can offer you real life proof that prayer really does change things. Every positive parenting effect I’ve had has come from the time spent in conversation with God. Not because I’m some super-holy prayer warrior, but because parenting literally drives me to my knees.
Over the last four years, I have prayed daily for Luke to overcome fear and anxiety, and I’ve begun to see the fruit of courage ripen in him little by little. (Thank you, Jesus.) I am flat powerless to fix Luke’s fears myself, but God is all-powerful to do that very thing.
You and I can follow methods and practice various therapeutic exercises with our kids to help them deal with anxiety, but there’s a point where our control (?) of a situation comes to a dead end. So we might as well hand over “control” to the only One who has it in the first place. Because this is exactly where God works wonders.
If your child struggles with anxiety, please know you aren’t alone. I want to give you a big hug and share some of the verses I’ve prayed over Luke specifically about Overcoming Fear. So I created a printable image that gives you one fear-fighting verse a day to pray over your child for 30 whole days. (Don’t miss that link below.)
My prayers are mostly scripture-based, and I’ve given you 3 examples of how I pray these scriptures, with hopes that you’ll print them out and pray them back to God in your own words.
Praying with you,
Scripture-based Prayers for Overcoming Fear
God, I know you have given _(child’s name)_ a spirit of power and love, and you’ve given him a sound mind. Cause him to lean into you when he’s afraid so that he won’t be overpowered by fear and anxiety. (2 Timothy 1:7)
Lord, you are with _(child’s name)_ everywhere he goes…so I pray that you would fill him with courage and strength. When he faces scary situations, let his heart well up with your holy bravery. May _(child’s name)_ never let fear or discouragement get the best of him. (Joshua 1:9)
Father, may your perfect love cast out every ounce of anxiety in _(child’s name)_ heart. Cause him to be so rooted and grounded in the love of Christ that he lives fearlessly by faith. (1 John 4:18, Ephesians 3:17)