“Get out of your comfort zone.”
We hear this sentence a lot. Doing something out of our comfort zone is easier said than done, but it is outside the comfort zone that we grow personally, professionally, and emotionally. Working on something new requires courage, a leadership quality that is difficult but not impossible to implement in our lives.
Courage is the strength and ability to do something despite fears and risks. We are not born with courage. It is like a muscle that needs to be constantly exercised. At D-PREP International School, we encourage our students to be courageous. But what about when class hours are over? How can parents continue teaching their children to apply this value?
Here are five ways you can teach courageousness at home:
1. Allow your child to make their own decisions
Being courageous isn’t easy. If it were, everyone would be doing it. It’s also easy to come up with courageous scenarios in our heads, but until we put those into practice, those acts remain a fantasy. The same situation can be applied to our children. If we want them to become courageous, we must teach and encourage them to act and make decisions at an early age.
One way to help children practice decision-making is to create a safe environment. Give them opportunities to choose. It could be as simple as deciding what color of clothes they’d like to wear. For older kids, parents can encourage them to say no when they are offered something harmful but are too afraid to decline. Courage can be learned, and it must be practiced regularly so children can be more comfortable with decision-making and taking responsibility for their actions.
2. Do something low-risk that challenges their fears
Fear can be crippling. It can keep us from taking action in the face of danger and even make us enablers of injustice. As parents, we want our children to become responsible adults. Unfortunately, this also means letting them face their fears no matter how much we want to keep them safe.
As parents, we can teach our kids to face their fears by reminding them that being scared is a natural and human response to danger. Always validate their feelings and tell them it’s okay to feel what they feel.
Another way to guide our children to face their fears is to create goals and low-risk activities. For example, if they’re afraid of sleeping in the dark, you can start by planning to sleep with them for the first night, then another night where you leave the door slightly open until they’re comfortable sleeping with a night light and then no lights at all. The system may vary from child to child, and you may not see results instantly. Remember to be patient in assisting your child. This will all be worth it when they become courageous adults.
3. Allow them to make mistakes
As parents, we fear for the safety of our children. We want them to do well and keep them safe, but keeping them sheltered is doing them more harm than good. Being overprotective makes a child reliant on their parents and prevents them from being independent.
If we want our children to be resilient and responsible, we must welcome failure and help them understand why something was wrong instead of doing everything for them. A sense of responsibility is essential to a child’s growth and development as it helps them become better prepared to face future challenges. Letting children experience failure may seem painful, but it teaches them to think creatively. Don’t deny them the opportunity to learn and grow their problem-solving skills.
4. Congratulate them for acting courageous
Rewards, whatever form they may be, feel good. Even as adults, we still aim to do well, especially if there are incentives. The same could be said for our children. It’s important to make them feel good for being courageous, no matter how easy it may seem.
Encourage children to continue being courageous by verbally telling them what a good job they’re doing. We may forget about the compliments a few years ago, but our children will remember them. Be sincere in giving them compliments. Kids can feel when you’re being inauthentic to them with your words.
5. Set courageous examples
Children learn by imitating the adults around them. They know to copy your facial movements, how you carry yourself, and even how you speak. But because their brains are not fully developed, they do not know whether what they copy is appropriate or not. This is where having a proper role comes in.
As parents, we are responsible for setting an excellent example for our children. It’s not enough that we tell them to be courageous. We have to live by this value and show them how to live a courageous life. We can start by doing simple things that scare us and then patiently explaining why we’re doing it when they ask. Children need to see specific actions and be constantly involved to understand why some behaviors are considered appropriate and why others are not.
There are many advantages to being courageous. Courage is essential in leadership because people want to follow someone who exudes confidence. By instilling this value in our children, we empower them to speak up, get out of their comfort zone, and go after the things that truly matter to them.