Raising Brave Kids

I have seen this saying around before. Does it ring true with you? The concept really struck me the other day when I saw the words after the following experience I’m about to share with you. I love this photo of Baillie running into the light from a couple of years ago and it seemed to capture the essence of that brave plunge into the unknown. Being brave and taking risks is such a difficult task, but with it can come such glorious and unknown fortune. How do we teach our children this important skill of bravery? I have a lovely new friend in Baltimore, Kim, who seems to know.

I was walking out of a party with Kim and her 5 year old daughter, Kate. We were at the top of a set of four concrete steps. Adorable Kate stood there perched on the top step with her sweet legs wobbling out of a pair of pink cowboy boots. Her blond hair blew in the wind as she leaned forward getting ready to JUMP down the four steps to the next landing. She teetered and swung her arms back and forth as she mentally assessed her willingness to take the plunge.

If she were my child, I would have yelled, “STOP! You could hurt yourself. That’s a long jump and the concrete is really hard!” My friend Kim, calmly said, “Try it. You can do it!” I looked at her like she had gone completely bonkers. Luckily, I was behind her. Kate did indeed try it, but became hesitant mid-jump, changed her mind and stumbled down the set of stairs. She didn’t hurt herself, but she came close to falling flat on her face.

My reaction would have been “Kate, I told you, you could really hurt yourself doing that. Please don’t jump from such heights on concrete.” But not Kim. Brave Kim said to Kate, “Come back up here, Kate, try that again. You can do it.” Up tromped Kate in those cowboy boots (gah! in those shoes, I thought). She turned around and took a huge leap and landed it cleanly! Kate turned around and grinned ear to ear. She oozed pride and joyful fulfillment from every ounce of her being. Kim gave her a quick “Well done, Kate” and off we went to the car.

Even now, my heart clenches up just thinking about how she could have hurt herself. But then, Kim turned that entire event into a building up and strengthening of her lovely daughter’s willingness to take risks, to be brave. My, my, what a lesson that was. Could I tweak my parenting style now to allow my kids to take bigger risks in their everyday lives? I need to channel my Brave Inner Kim and let those kids try more things. I’m such a protective mama bear though. Unfortunately, I’ve found my anxiety fuels their anxiety. It is just so hard, though, when you don’t want them to get hurt.

Well, that’s just the problem isn’t it. None of us want to fail or get hurt. But, what I saw with Kim and Kate so clearly in front of me was that you can practice bravery every day in small things. And, if you do make that bravery a bigger part of you, you just might find something glorious at the end of the road.

“Fortune favors the brave” is thought to have originated in the 2nd century BC by playwright Terence.

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