Can a Relationship With Allah swt Help Children With Anxiety?
The company our children keep has a great impact on many aspects of their lives, both on their physical and mental health, including anxiety. As parents, we encourage our children to make good friends, who support one another in times of need. How then, do we think about investing in the most important relationship our children can have – namely, with God?
Studies show that one in eight children suffers from anxiety disorders. It is also well-known that children do not always communicate their concerns to their parents or loved ones.
Consider then, the following verse of the Holy Qurán:
“Allah is the friend of those who believe: He brings them out of every kind of darkness into light.” [Al-Baqarah 2:258]
Now, doesn’t this sound like the friendship that we need to encourage our children to pursue?
Faith, Anxiety, and Mental Health
Scientific studies confirm that prayer alleviates anxiety. Faith is credited with better overall mental health and fewer symptoms of both depression and anxiety.
Of course, the Holy Quran also points us to prayer at times of stress:
“Aye! It is in the remembrance of Allah that hearts can find comfort.” [Ar-Ra’d 13:28]
In order for our children’s mental health to benefit from faith and prayer, it is necessary for them to have an understanding of who God is and to develop an ongoing relationship with him.
1. Getting To Know God
According to a number of studies, if an individual has a positive perception of God, then there will be a benefit to their mental health. Simply put, if one believes that God is loving, all-hearing, and gracious, then the act of praying itself—leaving aside the matter of its acceptance—will ease their anxiety.
So start by teaching your children about Allah swt. One way to do this is by speaking with your children about His Attributes found in the Quran and Hadith.
The Names of Allah swt tell us that He is As-Salam, the Source of Peace and Safety; Al-Ghaffar, the Ever-Forgiving; Al-Wakil, the Dependable; and Al-Waliyy, the Protecting Friend. Are these not the characteristics we wish for in our children’s friends!
In times of anxiety, imagine the comfort our children will feel, knowing that they have the most dependable, protecting friend in their corner.
2. Building a Lasting Relationship With God
Research into faith and anxiety has found that those who have a secure attachment to God are better able to cope with stress. A secure attachment is defined as one where a person is used to turning to God frequently.
Fortunately, our children have the opportunity to commune with God at any given moment, to share worries, give thanks, or recite a prayer taught in the Quran and Hadith.
The five daily prayers are also vital in building an ongoing relationship. Salah also comes with added benefits to mental health. A study found that when individuals pray in a manner that requires them to repeat a phrase- much like salah – an area of their brain that regulates emotional responses is activated. This results in the individual being more calm and better able to deal with stress.
3. Practical Tips To Help Children With Anxiety
In order to support our children’s ongoing relationship with a God who they have come to know, here are a few things we can do:
- Speak of God lovingly. Through your example, model a living relationship with Allah, based on love.
- When your children face anxiety, encourage them to communicate with you, but also tell them to speak with Allah about it. We often encourage our children to express their feelings to their close ones, as this act of “venting” can be all it takes to feel better.
- Support your older children in offering the five daily prayers, and before beginning to pray, ask them what they want to pray for. This will encourage them to pray regularly.
In summary, if you can show how Allah subhana wa taála is your Friend, and foster this same relationship for your children, then they will always have a True Friend in whose Hands they can leave their worries in moments they might otherwise feel isolated. May Allah subhana wa ta’ala be a True Friend to all our children, and may this friendship bring them strength and peace ~ Ameen.