As parents, we encourage our children to be brave – from when they are young children starting school, through to navigating the many challenges of the teenage years.
However, courage can be a difficult concept for children (and even adults) to grasp– not least because ‘standing strong’ on the outside does not necessarily mean we feel strong on the inside. In fact, often being brave means standing strong or standing up for something or someone, despite feeling anxious or afraid. In the words of psychologist Karen Young, “courage and fear always exist together. It can’t be any other way. If there is no fear, there is no need for courage”.
An important part of parenting is therefore teaching our children the value of being courageous, for facing our fears and for advocating for others and what is right – even when it doesn’t feel easy.
- Talk to your child about the co-existence of courage and fear, and the value of being brave. Model bravery in your own actions as a parent.
- Encourage your child to step outside of their comfort zone – it can be easier, safer and less anxiety-provoking to ‘play it safe’, but being brave can also be so rewarding and can allow for growth.
- Psychologist Karen Young provides an excellent overview and practical strategies for nurturing bravery in children in her article, ‘Teaching kids to be brave: Explaining what courage is’: https://www.heysigmund.com/building-courage-in-kids/