Nobody likes me.
God must not care.
I can’t trust anybody.
I can’t do anything right.
Life’s not fair.
Have you heard your child say these words? Perhaps she’s hurting over the loss of a pet or an ailing grandparent. It could be loneliness or conflicts that won’t resolve. Or maybe it’s something more trivial like outgrowing a favorite pair of boots. Whatever the reason, sadness stinks and it’s easy for children to get stuck there. When your child’s heart plunges into discouragement or grief, you want to throw in a lifeline. But how?
Dr. Lake Sullivan’s book for children, How to Get Unstuck from the Negative Muck, describes negative thoughts as a “Bad News Radio” channel. All badness and sadness, all the time! When a child is discouraged or grieving, it’s hard to turn off “Bad News Radio.” Sullivan writes, “It can feel like everything is bad… This isn’t true at all. It’s just that you have to learn how to talk back to those thoughts!” Replacing negative thoughts with positive ones, replacing false ideas with true ones, is healing.
What if we instead turned on a “Good News Radio” channel? As the bible exhorts us, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).
One way to cue up (and crank up) the “Good News Radio” is by filling our minds with good, truth-filled poetry—tried and true medicine for a downcast soul. Everyone from Thomas Jefferson to Joan Didion to King David has turned to poetry for solace in times of sadness. Why not give it a try with your children?
To find encouraging poems for little hearts, start with two things you’re likely to already have: a bible and a hymnal. Don’t have one of these? No problem, just borrow it from church.
First, check out the Psalms. David wrote many of them in times of distress. Personally, the Psalms aren’t my favorite book, but when I’m discouraged, they suddenly seem really relevant! You might start with Psalm 9, 18, 118 or 121. These chapters focus on God’s care, deliverance, and mercy. Occasional imprecatory verses and passages may disturb little ones, so edit as necessary when reading aloud. Choose a verse or two to write on a notecard and tape to a mirror or refrigerator. They will remind your child of how precious they are to God.
Second, poetry treasures can also be found in a hymnal. Lyrics are just poems set to music, and that makes them easier to remember! Lift Every Voice and Sing II has a whole section called “Assurance.” In it, you can find hymns like “Blessed Assurance,” “I’ve Got Peace Like a River,” and “His Eye is on the Sparrow.” These songs have reassured generations of Christians that God is always near.
Simple favorites like “God Will Take Care of You,” “God is So Good,” “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hand,” and “Jesus Loves Me” are perfect for children with their simple words and comforting truths. Listen to the songs together in the car or sing them together at prayer times. Pick just one song to start and add more once everyone is familiar with it.
Blessings to you and your children as you fill up your “Good News Radio” channel!
May the songs and poems of God’s people drown out bad news and discouragement with truth.
May they encourage your child’s heart…and your own.
God will take care of you,
Through every day, o’er all the way;
He will take care of you,
God will take care of you.
“God will take care of you” lyrics by Civilla D. Martin, 1904; copyright: public domain
[Photo Credit: Public Domain via Pixaby]
What songs play most often on your Good News Radio?