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Thinking Biblically About Mental Health for Kids

By Bible Engagement Project Web Team | Posted In What Does the Bible Say

The following is a quick guide for kids pastors and parents created in partnership with a licensed professional counselor and play therapist.

What this is about

• Conversations about mental health are for every age group, not just adults. Remember that children feel more than they may understand or express. Don’t be afraid to talk to them in the following ways, using the following Scriptures and pointers, and letting them know that Jesus walks with them through what they feel.

What the Bible says

• “We capture . . . rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5, NLT). Teach children about positive and negative thinking. When we have negative thoughts, we can take them captive and bring them to Jesus.

• “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7, NLT). Teach children that God understands us, knows we will be anxious, and tells us to let Him help us through prayer.

• “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2, NLT). Teach children to have compassion for others but also for themselves! We may speak nicely to our friends and forget to use the same loving language for ourself. Remember also the second greatest commandment of Jesus: “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). This reminder can help us show compassion.

What to remember

The connectedness of thought–feeling–behavior. Remember that if we change our thoughts, we can change our feelings, and our behaviors will follow! God cares not only about our behaviors, but also our thoughts and feelings.

Our bodies matter. When the gas light comes on in a vehicle, something is wrong. When a part of our body hurts, the pain signals that something is wrong. Remember not to ignore how you feel.

The coach and the critic. Who are you listening to? A coach will say, “Come on, you can do this!” A critic will say, “You can never do this. You’re not good enough.” Remember that God is the best coach, and you can always listen to Him.

You can seek professional help. If you find that a child is experiencing regressive behaviors or is continually struggling with a problem for an extended amount of time, they may need professional care. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a primary care physician and a local counseling center.  

Ways to pray

• Pray for the children who suffered more abuse during COVID-19 lockdowns that they will receive Jesus as their Savior. Also pray that they will receive helpful treatment to help them cope with life inside and outside the home.

• Pray that more churches will be attentive to the mental health concerns of children and reach out to families with resources to help their children grow in all areas.

• Pray that Jesus will continue making himself known to children so that they will grow up relying on and trusting in Him, no matter what harmful influences come into their life.

Further reading for parents and pastors

No-Drama Discipline by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson
The Whole-Brain Child by Dr. Daniel J. Siegel

Further reading for kids

I’m Gonna Like Me by Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell
My Big Bad Monster by A. N. Kang
The Goodbye Book by Todd Parr
When Sophie Gets Angry—Really, Really Angry… by Molly Bang
Words and Your Heart by Kate Jane Neal