Raising a brave child can seem daunting, but it’s important to remember that bravery is something that can be learned and cultivated. Here are a few tips on how to help your child become fearless and thrive in any situation.
Kids (often boys) relate bravery to heroic acts like they see exhibited by their favourite characters in movies and TV shows. For them, bravery has always to be a BIG act, and you are either BRAVE or NOT BRAVE.
We need to help them understand that bravery is a learned behaviour—not something you’re born with. Bravery can be taught, built upon, and developed over the years until it becomes a habit. The earlier we learn to be brave, the better it is.
7 Steps to Raise a Brave Child
1. Explain that brave people don’t always feel brave inside.
Children tend to think that if a person acts bravely, he or she must not be feeling fearful. They then assume that because they do feel fearful, they are not brave. This assumption shapes their behaviour and self-image. You can reshape this belief by explaining that brave people are frightened even while they act bravely—they just choose to act bravely despite their fears.
2. Affirm your child’s bravery.
Remind your child that you see her as brave. This will encourage her to see herself that way and reflect it in her actions. Try saying things like, “You can do it—I know how brave you are,” and “I know how you make hard choices and do the right thing” to show your child how you see her.
3. Give your child permission to “make mistakes.”
Nothing is more paralysing than the fear of failure. Telling your child that it’s okay to fail you will help her rebound when she isn’t successful. Remind your child that every time you fail at something, you learn what doesn’t work.
4. Encourage your child to try new things.
Prompt your child to try a range of different activities (e.g., drama, sports, music, art), whether she thinks she will be “good” at them or not. Teach her that the goal of these activities isn’t to be better than others—it’s to get to know herself better. Note that this also applies to allowing your child to experiment with new ideas. Don’t limit her ideologically and allow her to disagree with you.
Make trying new things a regular part of your family life, too. Try new foods, go to new places, and cultivate a sense of adventure.
5. Share your stories.
Tell your child about times when you felt scared or nervous or had to stand up for yourself against others’ opinions. If she knows you have had fears and conquered them, she will try to do the same.
6. Allow your child to make her own decisions.
As long as your child is safe, you should let her use her intuition to guide her own choices. Too much advice can undermine children’s confidence in their own decision-making capabilities. This causes them to hesitate more and be less courageous.
7. Teach your child forward-thinking.
Teach your child how to make wise decisions on her own. Have them examine their choices and consequences before making them.
Every day, our kids are fighting self-doubt, peer pressure, fear, and anxiety. Let them know that you’re there for them.
You can use the Superpower Kids I Can Solve a Problem printable to help your child develop better problem solving skills.