What encouragement do you give your children to be brave?

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One of the personal values we hold dear at school is Courage.  Courage – having the ability to do something that frightens you – bravery.   For a moment, think about occasions when you have had to be brave, was it was doing something for the first time – remember back to how it felt when joining a new school, taking an exam. starting a new job, having children! Perhaps it was just the fear of going on a roller coaster (I’m still a total wuss when it comes to roller coasters!) We have many situations where we need to demonstrate courage, on a daily basis to a lesser or greater degree. Things like having that difficult conversation, speaking up in order to voice an opinion or a concern, standing up for a friend or beginning or continuing with tasks that are tricky.  They can be tricky for us as adults when we (should) have the emotional understanding and tools to deal with them, now, take a moment to think how it must feel for your children – somewhat overwhelming. I think it is easy for adults to see children’s fears with an adult’s eyes and wonder why they are “making a fuss” or being reticent. We need to remember that these are their first steps. Learning to deal with things is a skill and requires it requires bravery, strategy and resilience. It is imperative that we model to our children how to take on new challenge, how to be brave, to acknowledge that it is “scary” sometimes and that it is ok to have that feeling, process it and then get on. I think the phrase is “Feel the fear and do it anyway!” and is the title of an excellent book by Susan Jeffers.

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Fear is one of the main things that will hold us back, and it is in effect a form of self sabotage.

There is a tendency with children for them to catastrophise and to lack self-belief. Fear of the event over-rides the belief in what the benefits of the process will be. So as adults we must work with our children to help them to acknowledge the fear, but not to dwell on it, and then to focus on the beneficial outcomes. Help them to formulate a way through. We must teach them strategy and not to self-sabotage before they have begun.

We can help by encouraging children to consider who can help them in those difficult times: friends, teachers, mentors and parents. Stress to them that it is important to talk rather than keep things bottled up.  That, in itself, takes courage.  

Being possessed of courage is so important, empowering our children to believe in themselves and to stand up for what they believe is right.  This is an essential life skill that needs to be practised throughout childhood in order that our children become strong and resilient adults. As a parent, and teacher, there can be a strong temptation to take that fear away from the children, to do things ourselves in order to protect them. We don’t want them to struggle like we did, right? But consider, it is your struggles that made you the person you are today. Taking the fear away and doing it for your child is not protecting them, it is preventing them from learning to be brave, preventing them from developing strategies, preventing them from learning the art of courage and preventing them from becoming resilient. In short, by over protecting and under estimating our children we stop their progress.

So how can we actively help our children to be brave, and to develop their resilience in a way in which they feel safe and supported?

Self talk is powerful, so make sure the voice that that they hear in their head says positive things to help them when facing difficulties. Model that positive self talk. Encourage your child to practise saying phrases such as:

I don’t give up when things get difficult

I know that I am unique and that is good.

I have the courage to be me

I can speak up about things that are dangerous

I can challenge when I believe that things are not fair

I try to think clearly, giving myself a moment to process my thoughts instead of letting fear control me

I can face my fears and I can try to find ways to overcome them myself

I can stand up for my sense of right, even if it is not popular. I am entitled to have my own views and opinions

I find ways to fill my heart with courage

I am not afraid to ask for advice or support

I love, respect and trust myself.

Say, repeat and believe it. You can do it!

“Live the Life of Your Dreams: Be brave enough to live the life of your dreams according to your vision and purpose instead of the expectations and opinions of others.”

Roy T. Bennett

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Published by headshipjourney

A teacher of thirty years, and mother of twenty seven years, I think I've learned a great deal - about children, about teaching and learning and about myself. We never stop learning and we should never be afraid to ponder new ideas, to roll thoughts around in our minds, to voice our opinions and have healthy debate. We should never have the arrogance to believe that we know it all but we should remain open minded ready to receive inspiration from those around us. And for me that inspiration comes from my own children, the children in my schools, parents and my wonderful team. I firmly believe that I am a privileged soul to be in the role that I am and I embrace every day and the challenge and joy that it will bring.

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