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Encouraging Bravery in Kids

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bravery in kidsStressful events offer opportunities for courage and growth.  Bravery may be our most important defense against anxiety, and is a gateway to self-esteem. And yet as parents, encouraging bravery in kids isn’t straightforward

Bravery is the experience of being afraid but believing that something else is more important than your fear. It is a choice, and a choice no one can make but ourselves. Kids have to make choices for themselves, and parents can’t teach a child to be brave.

Teach Family Values

However, parents can teach kids, and model, the important things of life – our values. These values can become the reasons to put fear aside and be brave. Talk with your kids about your family’s values. What are the things you as parents and as a family believe are important? Help your kids see the importance of acting on these values in life.

Define Bravery

While parents cannot teach kids to be brave, they can teach kids how to be brave. Parents can explain that bravery is about taking action even if you are afraid. Help kids to understand that being afraid is a feeling whereas being brave is an action. Taking action doesn’t require feeling good or safe, it only requires courage. Explain to kids how being courageous is a choice all kids can make for themselves.

Explain Bravery’s Path to Self Esteem

Finally, point out and show your kids how good it feels to stretch. Self-esteem is earned, and is flows from stretching ourselves and succeeding. It even flows from stretching ourselves and stumbling, so long as we get up and keep stretching. Self-esteem is not about doing things that are easy. It’s about stretching to do things that are outside of our comfort zone. Only after we really try at something can we feel proud of ourselves. It is as simple as that.

Opportunities for bravery can offer optimal vehicles for growth and self esteem that over time become the stepping stones of our life’s journey, and the seeds of our wisdom. Bravery is the gateway to turning these lemons into lemonade!

Alicia H. Clark, PsyD

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