Welcome to Day 2 of the #blogchatterA2Z challenge and B is for Being Brave. I won’t be talking about bravery in the sense of fighting a lion or the David vs. Goliath scenario. That is indeed bravery but my focus today will be on raising children capable enough to brave any challenges or difficulties that life throws their way. The ability to keep standing and seeing oneself through any situation is bravery.
As our children grow up life will throw many challenges at them and one of the most important weapons in their armour at that point will be courage. They will face failures, rejections and twists and turns in their chosen path. That’s when they will need to be brave – find the courage to keep going, or to find another way.
We also need to tell our children that bravery looks very different from outside than inside. It’s all shining and bright and impressive and powerful from the outside – maybe even thrilling and adventurous, but inside, it is more often than not frightening and scary – it is trembling legs and butterflies in the stomach. Fear is the other side of bravery – if there is no fear, there is no need for courage either! Remember the popular punchline of the drink mountain dew, “darr ke aage jeet hai” (Beyond fear, lies victory)
That brings us to the question of how one can instill bravery and courage in our children. Let me share some tips and ideas and I look forward to hearing your ideas as well.
So here I am with 9 tips on how to raise brave children:
- Start by sharing your own fears and how you have tackled them: when you share your own fears with your children, you are giving them the message that it is okay to have fears. And when you tell them how you tackled those fears, you are showing that fears can be conquered. Encourage your kids to talk about their fears and guide them on how to overcome those.
- Let them handle their own fears: Guide them but let them handle their fears themselves. As a parent you would love to fix a situation for your kids. However, sometimes it is best to stand apart and let them deal with it. What they learn from that will be for a lifetime. They would learn to have confidence in themselves and their decisions.
- Tell them stories of bravery from your own family and outside. These leave the longest lasting impressions and also sometimes give children standards to live up to. I remember my grandmom would tell me a story from her childhood – a small channa (chickpea) got stuck in her ear when she was a little girl. With no immediate medical help around – her father poured some oil in her ear to soften it and bit by bit wedged the channa out. It was a long and painful process and what I remember the most from the story is that not once did my grandmom cry out in pain. To date, except for my labour pains, I have tried never crying out in pain – physical and even emotional.
- Applaud every small act of bravery by your child: it could be applauding a public performance if your child is scared of limelight or appreciating a shy child on making new friends. It could be standing up to a bully or going to the nearby shop all alone for the first time or choosing to walk away from a fight. All of these are instances where children have put away their fears and decided to face them.
- Challenge them to step out of their comfort zones: everyone likes to operate in their comfort zones and why not. We need to challenge our kids to step out and try something that scares them. Show them how to break the challenge into manageable bits. Discuss what it would be like, how to plan for it, what could be options a,b and c. My mother in law is handicapped (her right hand is deformed) and her father encouraged her to try her hand at everything. She remembers how he encouraged her to learn driving, slowly building her confidence. It is a form of courage to not take refuge in your drawbacks but step up and deal with them.
- Take responsibility, own up: Owning up to a mistake is being brave. It is okay to make mistakes and it is important to own up to them. Blaming someone else or the situation is taking the easy way out and displays a lack of courage. I grew up reading a lot of Enid Blyton books and one of the lessons I imbibed was that we always own up to our mistakes, however embarrassing or terrifying that may be. But for a child to learn to own up, as a parent you must appreciate them for their honesty and not scold them for their mistake. Otherwise they will forever learn to hide their mistakes.
- Assessing Risk – understanding pros and cons: An important aspect of bravery is the ability to assess risk. Being foolhardy is not brave and neither is taking decisions under pressure (peer or otherwise). Help children learn to assess situations and how to react to them. It is important for them to be able to understand the consequences of their actions and steps.
- Changing course is also bravery: continuing on the path taken reflects perseverance, but sometimes one may need to backtrack or change course to achieve their objective. Flexibility is more important than being stubborn and perhaps braver too. It is never too late change anything.
- Learning to say NO: this is a tough one for me. I have always found it hard to say NO and it takes a lot of courage. But being assertive is very important and I am slowly learning it. As a parent, you must allow your child to refuse. Let them explain why they are saying no and then respect that. You may encourage them to rethink but the idea is that they are not pressurized to say Yes – just to remain in your or anyone else’s good books.
To sum up, bravery is an essential part of independent an confident individuals. I hope you liked my ideas – what are yours? Do share some of your tips too. Do come back tomorrow for “C is for Courage of Conviction”
And if you want to read more about my theme, please read the theme reveal.
For letter A, you can read A is for Aiming High.