How to Help Your Child Overcome Fear (and How to Overcome Fear Yourself)

March 3, 2022

As a parent, you want your child to do well in life. You want them to have a life that is better than what you had. But if you want your child to do anything of value in life, you’re going to have to help them learn how to overcome fear.

That’s because their ability to live with purpose and have a lasting positive impact is directly correlated to their ability to face fear.

Here’s a way you can approach helping your child (and yourself) overcome fear:

We all deal with fear. From indecision, uncertainty, and doubt to anxiety and panic attacks, we’ve all dealt with it on some level and will continue to face fear as long as we’re doing anything worthwhile.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year. That’s nearly 1 in 5 people in America. They also state that, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1 in 13 globally suffers from anxiety.

So, America clearly has a fear problem.

The American Psychological Association says there was a 30% increase in the rate of death by suicide in the United States between 2000 and 2016. The suicide rate increased by about 1 percent per year from 2000 through 2006 and by about 2 percent per year from 2006 through 2016.

They also say that in 2016, suicide was the second-leading cause of death among people ages 10 to 34 and the fourth-leading cause among people ages 35 to 54.

Why are fear and depression so prevalent?

Simply put, we have a crisis of purpose. On a large scale, we’ve lost track of why we’re here. We work and work and work, yet we end up completely unfulfilled. So many people chase things that don’t matter, and they find themselves in a dark place.

We’re smarter than ever before, more self-reliant than ever before, and more aware of our insecurities than ever before. This leads us to work harder and harder every day to create our own purpose and to fix ourselves of every flaw we’re more and more aware of. So, what are we to do?

Fear is the number one threat to a person’s destiny. And fear has the ability to do what nothing else in this universe can do – make you abandon your purpose for living. There’s nothing in the universe powerful enough to take your purpose. But you can give it up, and that’s what fear convinces people to do – to give up the purpose you were made for.

One of the biggest tragedies in life are the success stories we’ll never hear because they were stolen by fear. The sad thing is, I can’t give you examples of people who lived their lives controlled by fear, because they gave up what was theirs – their purpose and their future – and no one will ever know their story.

Remember, fear is an emotion; it’s not a part of who you are. There’s a purpose for your life that’s bigger than you can imagine, but there are obstacles along the way. Fear is one of the biggest obstacles you’ll face, but you cannot allow it to steer you off your path. It’s a part of the journey, and you absolutely must learn how to deal with it in order to live with purpose.

3 truths about fear:

#1 – Fear is real

There is a line in the movie “After Earth” where Will Smith says to his son, “fear is not real.” While I can appreciate the heart behind this statement, it just isn’t true.

That’s like you breaking up with the love of your life and me telling you that the pain you feel isn’t real but is just a product of your thoughts and imagination.

The truth is, fear is very real. Fear is largely on unconscious process, so telling yourself it isn’t real or trying to will it away is simply avoidance, and avoidance amplifies fear. We get to choose whether or not we agree with fear, but we do not get to choose when we feel the emotion we call fear.

Avoidance is one of the unhealthiest things you can do for your psychological well-being, so start by seeing fear for what it is and acknowledging that it is real.

#2 – Fear is not something to fight

Fear only wins when you’re lured into the fight. The phrase, “it takes two to tango” is a great motto to go by when dealing with fear.

This is not the same as avoidance. Acknowledge fear, see it for what it is, and get to the root of it whenever necessary, but do not give it any more energy than it deserves and do not try to “fight” fear. You’re fighting an invisible battle that you don’t have to be a part of.

That’s why our society struggles like it does right now. So many people are trying to fight fear and anxiety and depression, and they’re trying to do it with their own strength. Little do they know they are fighting an invisible fight that isn’t at all a part of their purpose for being alive.

Don’t trust in your ability to reason your way around fear, because that never works long-term. Trust your Creator, trust the process, and trust the purpose for which you were made.

#3 – Fear feeds on rationality.

Our society tells us that rationality and problem solving is the key to success.

If you want to make money, solve a problem and sell it to others. If you want a nice car, figure out how to get your credit score up so you can get a bigger loan. If you’re experiencing discomfort of any kind, Google the remedy or get medication. Our brains have been trained to take every situation into our own hands. And if it’s out of our hands, then we go to a doctor in hopes that he/she will be able to control our issue for us.

Fear is one thing that the world cannot remedy.

Jesus said he was leaving us with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And he said the peace he gives is a gift the world cannot give. There are a lot of well-meaning people who will give you Band-Aids for fear, but they’re all temporary.

So, let’s look at a few tools we can use to deal with fear the correct way.

3 tools to successfully deal with fear:

#1 – Acknowledge fear for what it is

We should never accommodate fear when we know we’re moving towards something bigger than ourselves. We should also never avoid fear or wait until it goes away before doing what we’re meant to do.

Instead, don’t play fear’s game, but instead remember why you’re here. Fix your thoughts on that. That’s the fight of faith.

It’s inspiring to me that Jesus never once ran from fear. He was so afraid that he sweat blood, but he went to his own execution anyway.

So, address the fear for what it is, then move through it.

#2 – Adjust your focus to your purpose

If you’re facing fear or anxiety or doubt or rage or anything else in your life, the first thing you should look at is where your perspective is.

We always gravitate towards the things we focus on, so pay attention to what you’re focusing on. I know my ultimate purpose is to live connected to my Creator, and the only way for me to walk through fear is to stay connected to and focused on the one who made me. The same is true for you. The more you adjust your perspective to focus on your purpose for living, the less fear can control you.

#3 – Keep moving forward

Our number one enemy is our own minds. The only way fear has power is if we give it more energy than it deserves. Fear is to be acknowledged and then taken to God so we can move forward with the power at our back. 

Do not get caught up in the cycle of analyzing fear. Do not dwell on situations that cause you fear. Instead, face them with confidence by giving it to God and finding peace in your purpose for being alive. You didn’t get here by accident, and you’re moving ahead with a purpose. Remember that.

Posted by Mike P. Taylor

Mike P. Taylor is an author, speaker, and coach who helps people find purpose outside of their work so they can live and work with more purpose. He lives in Nashville, TN with his wife Sydney and their four kids.