Bravery in Kids: How to Nurture This Quality
If a child can learn to be brave, they will be much more resilient, and much more prepared to take smart risks. Brave kids are also more likely to stick to their moral convictions in tough situations. Clearly, this trait is something every parent wants to nurture, but how do they do it?
What is Bravery
A simple bravery definition might state that bravery is the ability to do something with confidence that is normally considered to be scary or intimidating. Consider this quote:
“You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.”
As you can see, bravery is quite empowering. It’s what drove Stephen King to become a writer.
What about courage vs. bravery? Aren’t they the same thing? The two terms are definitely used interchangeably, but there are some important differences. Consider the examples above. All of these things can be done out of bravery or courage. The difference is that courage indicates that the fear is still there, and the action is what takes place in spite of it. Bravery is a state of mind that doesn’t allow fear in.
Ultimately, courage is useful in a scary moment. It allows a child to overcome their fear in order to enjoy a new experience, or simply do the right thing. Bravery involves adopting a state of mind that encourages an absence of fear in most situations.
Technicalities aside, keep the following in mind:
- Courage and bravery are both important.
- Many experts use the terms synonymously.
- Fostering situational courage can help children learn to become brave
How to Raise a Brave Child
So, what can you do to encourage your child to be brave? Here are some actionable tips.
Help Them Feel Safe When They Are Afraid
Bravery isn’t something you can force into a child. Techniques such as throwing the kid into the deep end of the pool don’t work. That’s not how learning happens! Putting your child in a scary position causes them to lose trust in you. To foster bravery, help your child feel safe when they are afraid. Here’s an example.
Imagine that your child is hesitant to join a boisterous game of ball. Rather than pushing them or shaming them for not joining, encourage them to sit with you. Let them know you’ll stay with them until they feel like walking over and joining the action.
It’s easier for kids to feel brave when they have a trusted adult to be their touchstone.
Encourage Kids to Talk About Their Fears
Validation is so important when children are feeling fearful. This is accepting and acknowledging their feelings as being real, and not shaming them for it. At first it sounds easy, but it can be difficult. Imagine your child expressing intense fear about something that is seemingly harmless to you. You may think they are being dramatic or silly.
Instead of expressing judgement about their fears (e.g.: stop being silly, there’s nothing to be afraid of!), ask them to talk to you about them. Is it a particular sound, sight, or smell that bothers them? Maybe they are fearful because they simply don’t know what to expect.
Recognize and Celebrate Brave Choices
When you see your child behave bravely, acknowledge that. It’s key that they know they have accomplished something important. Encourage them to be proud of themselves. You might even celebrate it with a small, but meaningful award for bravery.
Build Bravery Into Bedtime
Bedtime rituals are important. Here’s just one more reason why that’s true. According to motivational speaker and coach, Jim Fannin,“studies have shown that the mind is most receptive to positive suggestions just before going to sleep.”
However, you should keep it simple. There’s no need to provide a lengthy pep talk. Something along the lines of, “You can accomplish great things.” is perfect. For older kids, make it a nighttime event to seek out bravery quotes from people they admire.
Your kids will really take a cue from you when it comes to bravery. Let them see you try things that might be scary. Talk openly about your fears, and how you overcome them. If they’re afraid, tell a story about having the same feelings as a kid.
For example, you might say: “I was really nervous this morning when I had to give a speech in front of my time. It was hard at first, but I took some deep breaths, and did it. I was proud of myself when it was over, and everything went really well!”
Talk About Bravery That You See
There are examples of bravery everywhere. It’s in the news, in movies and on television, and in real life. When you see someone doing something brave point it out. Just be sure that you show all types of bravery. Remind your kids that it isn’t just superheroes that have courage.
Teaching your child to be brave is a matter of proper and consistent parenting. Validate your child’s choices, teach them to recognize brave deeds. Plus, always provide proper reward whenever they should the right time of behavior.
Photo by Josh Willink