For three- and four-year-olds beginning to step out into the world from the safety of a parent’s arms, there can be much to fear, whether it be a bump in the night or walking into a new classroom. Bravery is a trait that can be developed and as a parent, there are things you can do for your child to equip them to live more courageously. According to Psychology Today, courage is "feeling fear, yet choosing to act." Let your child know that it’s okay to feel afraid. Then explain that learning bravery is about trying not to allow fear to make decisions forth.
Provide security. Remind them you will be there for them, whether on the sidelines at a sport, or in a pickup line at school. Give them extra cuddles after they have faced down fearful situations.
Praise small successes. If your child is paralyzed by fear over something, break their approach to it into smaller steps. Then praise them for each step taken. Walking past a house where a dog lives instead of crossing the street to avoid it is worth applauding. Then walking down the sidewalk past a dog on a leash could be a good next step.
Many times, kids fall prey to their fears because they don’t have a better response in their arsenal. This is where role-play can make a difference. Talk about what situations make your child afraid. Then act out a variety of responses they could take. Working through the same scenario a few times gives your child a chance to absorb better responses they can call on in the future.
Books about courage
The Little Yellow Leaf by Carin Berger
Not Afraid of Dogs by Susanna Pitzer
Peep!: A Little Book About Taking a Leap by Maria van Lieshout
Sheila Rae, the Brave by Kevin Henkes
Lara is a freelance writer, and a mom to three girls.
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