Like us, you’ve probably made a few friends with other parents, on the sideline of the soccer field or at the local play centre, waiting for the last piece of birthday cake to be served! That’s how we became friends, chatting over a cup of coffee as our daughters did gymnastics.
We talk about lots of different things from challenges at work to parenting. One of the topics we often talk about is how we help our kids navigate their anxieties or self doubt. Everyone has that little voice inside that tells us we can’t do that, we are not smart enough, we need to do better. We experience this at work — facing a boardroom of smart people, worrying about whether we are being the best parent we can be. We also see this in our children when they are afraid to put their hand up in class, try something new or are comparing themselves to others.
We are all braver than we think. Being brave is not about being the hero, it is about having the confidence to speak up and being yourself. It’s about getting back up and trying again when something doesn’t work out. Here are a handful of ways to help your child to be brave.
5 ways to help your child be brave
1. It’s OK to be afraid, scared or not know the answer
We can’t know the answer to everything and know what to do in all occasions. There is no manual on how to be a child or a parent! Encourage your child to ask questions and get support. And of course, having a good friend to talk to always helps.
Help your child get used to the butterfly feeling in their stomach by trying something you both haven’t done before. By stepping out of your comfort zone and challenging yourself, your comfort zone becomes bigger and you grow. Try rock climbing, going for a bushwalk in a new place or even talking to a family you don’t know at daycare.
This is a simple one. Simply taking a deep breath to relax when you’re feeling cross or stressed helps. Deliberate breathing actually calms your mind! Step outside, go to nature, go to the beach and breathe in the fresh air. There are also some good meditation apps aimed at kids that have helped us too.
3. Tell a positive story
Sometimes we tell a mean story to ourselves because something hurtful happened to us or to someone else. That little voice inside will always be there even when your child is all grown up. If you think your child is telling themselves, “I can’t do that, I’m wrong” or “I will say something silly,” help your child tell themselves a positive story. Let them know, “You are kind, you are smart and you are important.”
4. Be open to changing course
We fall into the habit of doing things a particular way and changing our thinking is hard. Let’s be open to changing course. It can help to see another perspective. You can guide your child to do that.
5. Embrace being yourself
Things don’t need to be perfect. What is perfect anyway? Give up on being perfect. Let your child know it’s OK to get something wrong. Share with them the times you’ve made mistakes and what you learned.
Everyone is different. Let your child know you love them for who they are and that they are brave by being themselves. The bravery comes from honouring yourself and from within. There is so much you can be if you trust yourself.