Prior to this activity, select a small gift for your child and wrap it up. It can be as small as a favorite treat or a handmade coupon to watch their favorite show together. The point of the gift is the activity, not the surprise itself.
Then, show the gift to your child and explain that you have a small surprise for them. Next, ask if he or she would like to open it or simply look at it. (He or she will likely enthusiastically want to open up the surprise. But stop them in their tracks!)
Point out the beautiful package and the care that went into putting it together. Do they really want to rip it open? Do they really want to tear it up to find out what’s tucked inside? Then, allow your child to share their responses aloud and encourage them to articulate in their own words why doing so is worth it.
Before giving your child the gift, ask him or her to simply hold it while you explain something very important. Share that good things — including growing, learning, and getting better at something — often come because of things that don’t feel so good — like messing up, making mistakes, and even feeling like we can’t do something. These challenging experiences — that we might want to avoid altogether — aren’t really “bad” at all. Instead, they’re just part of the natural process of getting to the good stuff.
Point out that it’s just like the gift they’re currently holding. They could avoid the work of tearing up the wrapping, but then they’d never get the surprise that was waiting inside. Then, remind him or her of their own enthusiasm in the very beginning. Remind them how badly they wanted to rip open the package in the first place.
End the activity by challenging your child to remember this the next time they’re scared of making a mistake or they’re nervous about trying something new. Those feelings and that process is simply the work it takes to unwrap the good stuff that’s waiting inside of them. Share, too, that God doesn’t want us to be controlled by how we feel. He wants us to act on what we know. And for those of us who trust in Jesus, we can know that God will give us the self-control we need to not let our fears and worries hold us back.
Finish by thanking your child for their attention and invite them to open — and enjoy — the surprise.
After completing this activity, read through the following verse and prayer with your child.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank You for being bigger than any fear, worry, or mistake we could ever make. Help us remember that we don’t have to fear the future because we have You. With You, we can do and handle big things, too.
In Jesus’ name, amen.