Dear Dr. Bill,
My 13-year-old daughter is fearful at bedtime. She’s afraid of being the last one asleep — because she believes if someone broke into our house, no one else would hear! I often pray with her at night, reminding her that we’ve always been safe, we live in a safe neighborhood, and that her dad and I are here to take care of her. I want her to have peace at night — how can we help her with her anxiety?
When a child suddenly begins to express unusual fears, you need to ask yourself what could be the cause of the anxiety. Have there been other significant changes in your daughter’s life? Could she be experiencing some kind of stress at school or with her peers? Sometimes kids who are under stress will express fears that have nothing to do with the actual stressful event or situation.
Continue to be as supportive as you can and try to figure out what may be behind her fears. Remind her that Jesus promises us that he will never leave us or forsake us, no matter what happens to us in this life. Have her memorize key scriptures about anxiety and meditate on them when she feels afraid.
There’s another possible cause for her fear you need to consider. Do you allow her to watch violent TV shows or cable movies? If not, could she have been exposed to a frightening DVD at a friend’s home? Kids love the adrenaline rush they get while watching scary movies, but don’t consider how the violent images may affect them emotionally or spiritually.
If your daughter is generally fearful and obsesses about other things, I’d suggest you consult with a child psychologist or psychiatrist. Your pediatrician should be able to provide you with a referral.
Thanks for writing Amanda.