What goals do we have for our kids (and for ourselves)? Is bravery one of them? Maybe. To be successful? Definitely.
I would argue that if you want your child to be successful, you also want them to be brave. Unfortunately, we often unintentionally raise our kids to equate perfection with success. When they try to be perfect, they become focused on being the best, and they become fearful of failing. They become so cautious that they only want to try something new if they know they can do it perfectly right away. Moreover, this leads to anxiety and missed opportunities. On the other hand, bravery opens doors to become more confident and take advantage of more opportunities.
Six signs that my child is brave:
- They love to be themselves
- They aren't afraid to make mistakes
- They're excited to try new things (even if they don't know if they'll be good at it)
- They see setbacks as challenges instead of failures
- They can acknowledge all of their feelings
- They stick up for others, even when it's not popular
So, what if I'd like my child to be more brave?
- A good place for your child to start is to read Stick Up For Yourself. It teaches kids how to have a sense of personal power and self-confidence.
- Check out my blog post about teaching kids a growth mindset, which fosters bravery: How to Effectively Affirm Kids.
- You can also seek consultation or support from a counselor to make a plan to address your child's anxiety and increase bravery. Theraplay is one of my favorite modalities for helping kids in this area. (Read more about Play Therapy and Theraplay in my blog post "What Actually Happens in Therapy.")
- Most importantly, live into this reality yourself. When your child sees you living this way, they will be able to learn it from you first hand.
So, what if I've realized that I've been trying to be perfect and don't know how to model bravery to my child?
- Steep yourself in writers such as Brené Brown.
- Change the way you talk to yourself. Start noticing when you expect perfection from yourself and change your expectations. My blog post A Case of the "Shoulds and Oughts" will get you started.
- Gather a support system around you who can help you live into this reality
- Get support from a counselor. You don't need to have a major problem to seek counseling. Counseling is also a tool to live into the life you want. EMDR is one modality that is very effective at changing the scripts and patterns of behavior in our lives, and can help you move from perfectionism to bravery.