Teach your child to be courageous. Courage is a learned behaviour. You can encourage your child to persist until she can ride her bicycle. When she falls, it hurts, but you urge her to try again. You persuade her to face her fear of falling and get back on the bicycle. In the same way, you can teach her to face and overcome other fears. Here are ten ways to teach your child to be courageous
Start when she is young
The way you talk to your child can be empowering or discouraging. Not only the tone of voice but also the words you choose have a specific effect. Your child is sensitive to body language and voice. If you want to raise a courageous child, you must encourage her to try new things. Give her positive feedback often. Show her that you trust her to be brave. Cheer her when she runs, climbs, swims, and sleeps in her own room. Be specific in your praise. Instead of saying “Well done”, say “I am proud that you were so brave when the dentist injected you.”
Set a good example
Never underestimate your child’s ability to be conscious of your anxiety and fear. Also, remember that you are a role model for your child. When she senses your feelings, she will watch what you do. Using words like “I cannot” or “they never” are disempowering phrases. Instead, use terms like “I will do that now” or “I made a mistake.” By taking responsibility for your life, you prove courage.
Teach decision making skills
Courage is about the choices you make. It is thus necessary to teach your child how to make decisions. When she is small, you can give her a choice between two things. For example, does she want to wear a red dress or blue pants? With older children, you can discuss the consequences of specific decisions. Ask questions like “What do you think will happen if you choose this” The child must also bear the outcome of her choice. Decision making is one of the most crucial life skills that we can teach our children.
Talk about courage
The easiest way to talk about courage is to read stories. There are various books for children of all ages. Use the story to explain that boldness has two components: Unpleasant feelings and the choice of action. Ask questions like “How does she feel?”
“How would you feel if this happened to you?
“What would you do?”
“Do you think she did the right thing? Why?”
Use her answers to explain what courage is.
(When you subscribe to Klaen magazine, you can download an MP3 with a story about courage that you and your child can listen to).
There are many real-life examples of courageous children. You can also use their stories to talk about courage. The following are examples from storypick.com:
- Mittal Pataditya was 12 years old when she fought off two assailants who attacked her mother. One of the attackers stabbed Mittal badly. She survived and had to get more than three hundred stitches.
- Riyaz Ahmed was only 9 years old when he saved a girl from railway tracks. He lost a limb in the process.
- 10-year-old Priyanshu Joshi fought off a leopard with his bare hands to save his sister.
- Tyler Moon was 6 years old when he and his father crashed their quad bike. He had nine cracked ribs but walked two kilometres to save his father.
- Hanna (16) and Haylee (14) Smith lifted a tractor off their father’s chest. He was pulling a stump from the yard. The tractor suddenly flipped and pinned the father to ground. The tractor weighed 1400kg.
- Young Zna Gresham caught a new-born baby when the mother threw her from the second-floor window of a burning building.
- At 10 years old, Tilly Smith used school geography to predict the 2004 tsunami. She recognized the signs and her warning saved hundreds of people.
These are all heroic acts. You can also talk about the little girl at her school who was too scared to enter. But she gathered the courage to go in and enjoyed the day. Also, show her the countless tiny acts of courage that we perform every day.
Feelings, actions, and failure
Courage does not mean that you cannot fail. To run into a burning building but failing to rescue the baby inside does not take away from the courage you showed. Explain to your child that failure acts as a lesson for the future. Nobody likes to fail. But it also takes courage to try something repeatedly. A courageous child is one who never gives up.
Use roleplay to teach your child to be courageous
It means that you pretend to be in a situation. Roleplay is a safe way for your child to practise how to act in challenging situations. If your child is bullied at school, you can discuss and validate her feelings. Together you can brainstorm some workable solutions for her. Then pretend that she is at school while someone says nasty things about her. Let her try her answers to find something that will empower her in the situation. Let her practise the reaction or behaviour until she feels comfortable with it. Acting out the desired behaviour will make it easier to apply in a real-life situation. Practice makes it better and easier!
Challenge your child: Activities to try
Life is full of challenges. By challenging your child, you allow her to face uncomfortable and tricky situations. It will enable her to gain experience in real-life situations. Challenges must always be appropriate to the age of your child. Be creative when you challenge your child. Talk to her about her fears and the advantages of being courageous. The following are examples of challenges that you can use. You can encourage your child to:
- Learn to ride a bike
- Be different from others
- Solve a problem by herself
- Embrace and to learn from failures. We all fail sometimes.
- Ask someone a question to which she has always wanted to know the answer, even if the person is unknown to her.
- Go to sleep on her own in her own room
- Try something new together with her family or friends
- Take the elevator to the tallest building around
- Try something new on her own
- Eat food that is unfamiliar
- Bob her head under water
- Apologize face to face
- Eat alone
- Compliment someone
When your child acts courageously, it is a reason for celebration. Give her honest, positive feedback. Organise a little ceremony and give her a certificate for courageous behaviour (you can download a certificate for your use here ). Ask her what she wants you to do. Perhaps you can take her to a movie or eat ice cream. She will feel strong, positive, and proud. She will develop the confidence that she can be courageous.
Our children face many challenges. Teach your child that she is strong enough to face her fears and act with courage. You will raise a strong and confident child. It is the best way to prepare her for her future.
Do you have a courageous child? How did you teach your child to be courageous?
Do you have questions about confidence and courage in children?
Would you please share your tips and questions with Klaen?