B is for BRAVERY. What does being brave mean to you? Why is it important to teach children to be brave? Often times children associate being brave with specific people such as firefighters and police officers. While I will agree that those professions and so many more require bravery, we can simplify it for children so they also experience being brave in their own lives. Bravery and courage often tangle together to form a perfect and at times frustrating dance.
As adults, we can encourage the children in our lives to try new things that are challenging. We can model and provide positive encouragement along the way. When an adult reminds a child that something is challenging, but that we know they can do it through practice, it allows a child the space and patience to keep trying. It is also important that as adults we do not always do something for the child. Could we do it in a much faster time frame? Of course. Can it require more patience on our part? Absolutely. But, there has to be times where we allow the child to fail and then try again. Then, after a child experiences even a small amount of success, tell them how proud you are of them, not because they did the action but because they did not give up.
It is important that we use the words “brave” and “courage” when teaching and modeling these character strengths. I love when I hear people say, “You may not feel brave right now but keep trying and you will feel it.” For so many character strengths it is necessary for us to point out those feeling words that are associated with specific traits. For a character trait to really stick, I believe a child needs to know what it looks like and what it feels like.
Recently our family rode a raft-style water ride. I HATE rollercoasters and our kids had never ridden anything like this. Instead of saying, “Oh just ride it” or “don’t be a baby” (my least favorite phrase to hear people say to kids), we had the conversation about how sometimes things make us nervous but can turn out to be fun. We talked about being brave and eventually we all rode the ride and had a great time. If we would have rushed them on without a little pep talk and conversation we could have easily ruined rollercoasters for them or the willingness to try something new.
Wishing you bravery and courage as you tackle new challenges and a reminder to help the children in your life feel brave through modeled behavior. Here is a great list of children’s books to help reinforce the concept of bravery. Click here!