It can hit us out of nowhere. It can have physical, mental, and emotional repercussions. Everyone handles it differently; some well, others not so well. What is this thing lurking in our daily lives? Stress.

There are positive and negative sides to stress, particularly for students. Positive stress is experienced when a student worries about finishing an assignment to the best of their ability. It forces the student to research thoroughly, pay attention to detail, and listen to teacher feedback. That positive stress can turn into negative stress if a student obsessively thinks about their assignments and panics uncontrollably when mistakes happen. When a student cries continuously, always refuses to play with friends, never stops studying except to eat and use the bathroom, and lies awake for hours every night* – this is when negative stress has taken a foothold.

So how should we encourage our children or students through stressful times? There are many ways; some reliable, some less so. Possible solutions range from TV watching to essential oils to going for walks. All these solutions are good. Rarely will a child become more stressed by following one of these solutions or one of a thousand other solutions. However, these ideas lack one essential foundation which is 100% guaranteed to bring peace – trusting God.

Reminding our children to trust God in every situation should be our first response. It may sound cliché to say, “Just trust God.” However, Scripture tells us this is not cliché but imperative! The opposite of trusting God is worrying. We worry because we don’t trust God is in control or God will help us in each situation. Jesus tells us, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” (Luke 12:25-26), “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matt. 6:34).” We gain nothing when we worry, except sleepless nights and fear of failure.

Notice, these verses do not say, “Don’t worry. Do nothing. You’ll be fine.” In fact, Paul tells us exactly what we are supposed to do instead of worrying: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Phil. 4:6). When was the last time you prayed with your child about their schoolwork or other potentially stressful things in their lives? When was the last time you thanked God for carrying you and your child through a stressful situation? Incorporating Paul’s instruction into our daily lives will help reduce negative stress. How? Because “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7). No amount of TV watching or length of walk provides the transcendent peace of God.

So, feel free to read as many self-help books on stress management as you’d like, but don’t ignore the ever important first step to successful stress management outlined in Scripture. Chances are this is a step requiring repetition on a daily, hourly, or even minute-by-minute basis. As you and your child take this first step, hold fast to the promise of God’s peace guarding your heart and mind in Christ.

*Note: I am not a health care professional. This is a list of stress symptoms I’ve experienced in my own life or lives of those close to me. This is not meant to help you diagnose whether someone has severe negative stress.

God works through people. If you find yourself struggling – help is available. For more information and resources visit: