We can spend a lot of time working hard to ensure that our children are the best versions of themselves, whether it’s encouraging them to be healthier or instilling a greater sense of self, there is a lot at stake for us as parents. We want our children to be better at certain things than we were, and when we start to see our children facing challenges that we know they must do themselves, we’ve got to prioritize embedding some essential attitudes such as courage. Bravery is something that is open to interpretation, but what can we do to help them be more courageous?
Provide “Risk-Taking” Opportunities
We’re not talking about taking your children completely out of their comfort zone, but about making sure that they are exposed to something that they potentially view as risky. There may be certain things they like the look of, and if they are coming to you asking what is scuba diving or what is mountain climbing, while this may be a long way off, we have to be ready to help them take risks, even if it’s something that we don’t like.
It’s so important to remember that our children will look to us for guidance, and this means ensuring that if our children want to take risks, we need to give them those opportunities in controlled settings. A good example for a young child is to let them take a few steps ahead of you rather than walking next to you. You can gauge the situation to make sure that they are crossing the road safely, but it’s this little thing that will remind them that having confidence and being willing to take risks, as long as you gauge the situation carefully, will result in a more resilient version of themselves.
Encourage Them to Do More Things Themselves
Self-sufficiency is one of the keys to being more courageous, and it’s easier than ever for our children to feel like we will do everything for them. Sometimes it can be easier to not argue the point. We can rely on so many things to do the job for us that we may never feel self-sufficient, but this is why we need to help our children develop their self-sufficiency by improving their abilities to look after themselves.
When we encourage our children to make the bed, this could easily result in a lot of eye-rolling or tantrums, but it’s something that Navy SEALs learn in training. Something so simple can instill a sense of achievement, and this can provide a foundation of self-sufficiency and sense of self, which is an amazing way to help our children feel more content in themselves which means they will have that self-resilience which is pivotal to building courage, confidence, and bravery.
Do Not Do Things for Them
It is easier for us to do things for our children, but we all need to develop, and part of getting older is about improving that sense of maturity. If we constantly leap to our children’s rescue every time something poses a modest problem, they will over time rely on us to do things for them, and they will never end up doing things for themselves. This means that when they become teenagers, there will be a lot more conflict because we start asking them to do things for themselves since they are physically capable of doing it, but they dig their heels in, and we invariably cave in because we are looking for a quiet life.
There are so many things that our children can do for themselves, and when we realize that, we’ve got to stop making life easier for ourselves by avoiding conflicts. We should feel secure in the fact that, despite us feeling like we could have tidied their room better or done the dishes quicker, if we give them a wider understanding of why it’s important to do things for themselves rather than relying on others, this goes a long way in encouraging self-sufficiency.
Support Them When They Encounter Fears
We’ve talked about confidence as a form of bravery, but we haven’t looked at what it takes to have bravery in the most traditional way. When we encounter fear, everything within us is telling us to run away. When our children are fearful of something, it can be easy for us to dismiss it because it’s something that we know isn’t scary due to our past experiences and encounters with other scary things. However, it’s vital to remember that empathy is a critical skill here. Many young children have struggled in light of the pandemic, and because they’ve been somewhat sheltered during their development, they may find things tougher to deal with.
For example, a young child may be petrified of something as harmless as a fly. While we know a fly is not harmful, we need to ensure that we don’t delegitimize their fears. At the same time, we should offer choices to help them ease into a situation, while recognizing that it’s normal to feel frustrated if our children are frightened of something that isn’t truly worth being scared of. We have to be patient and remember that conquering fears needs to be broken down into smaller steps that can give them a sense of gradual progress. In the case of a fly in the house, if your child is scared of it, it’s about helping them see that it doesn’t harm others and is more of a nuisance. This may take time for them to ease into their own understanding of their fears.
Sometimes we encounter people who claim they’re not scared of anything or try to put up a sense of bravado, but the fact is, we all are scared of something, and the notion of “bravery” is not about defiance or the old-school action hero type of bravery. Instead, it’s about being able to withstand discomfort. As people, we have become too comfortable, and it can be beneficial for us to remember this from time to time as well.
Every parent dreams of raising a healthy, happy and harmoniously developed child. Along the way, he encounters obstacles and unanswered questions. Or, on the contrary, there are too many answers and it is not clear which one is correct. It remains to rely on common sense and expert opinion.
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