As parents, our natural instinct is to protect our children from danger. But as Maya Angelou famously once said, “Courage is the most important of all virtues because, without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous or honest.”
Being courageous means our children will have greater resilience, confidence and willpower when it comes to their learning, social engagement and growth. With courage, children find strength to face adversity and overcome any challenges that stand in their way. They are more likely to withstand negative peer pressure, say no to things that go against their values and to do the right thing.
Courage does not happen when someone tells us “There’s nothing to be scared of!”. Courage is something “magical” that happens inside each of us to make us persevere through fear, anxiety and hesitation to do the things that make us feel frightened. The first step is knowing what to do. The next step, which many fear, is having the heart to step out of their comfort zone and do it.
The beauty of courage is that it only has to happen for a few seconds at a time – long enough for children to be brave. This important virtue can be taught, built upon and expanded over the years until it becomes a habit. That’s why it is important for children to develop courage in their early years.
The truth is that our children need gentle nudges from time to time to step out of their comfort zone and discover their inner strength and hero within. As parents, it is our job to help them find their few seconds of courage so they can be brave and follow what their heart has urged them to do.
So what can we do to cultivate courage in our children?
- Show them what bravery looks like.
Allow your children to watch you step out of your comfort zone. When your character is tested in front of your child, show them that you have the strength to overcome your fear. Be the hero that they look up to.
- Challenge and praise.
Trying new things and doing activities that children might fear, is a good way to present safe opportunities for children to be brave. Start off with simple activities such as trying new food, speaking in front of the class or playing a different sport. Regardless of results, when children perform these activities, be sure to give them praise and build up on their courageous attempts.
- Build confidence and develop conviction.
It is important for young children to know that who they are as a person is not based on their performance, what others say about them or what they can or cannot do. Once children are able to conquer little steps and walk with confidence, it builds their courage to be themselves, reaffirms their own character of strength and reduces limiting thoughts and negative pressures.
Keep in mind always that something seemingly small to adults, can be a big deal for children. Adults have the capability to balance out the risks and the benefits of various situations but young children live in the moment and often don’t think about anything other than what’s right in front of them.
The truth is, our little ones are conquering their fears every day. Each and every one of them is a hero in their way. At GUG Preschool, we understand that each new day brings about new challenges for children. That’s why our 5-Point Intelligence approach which is designed to nurture the 5 Courageous Skills, develops the necessary intelligence (IQ) and emotional (EQ) quotient in young children and prepares them for even greater learning and achievements.
In our classrooms, specially curated age-appropriate stories, news articles and biographies are read and discussed together. Through GUG phonics storybooks, and using guided visualisation, role play and creative writing, our students grow more empowered and confident to overcome their anxieties, adapt to changes and take on new challenges.
The key is to help them realise that they have what it takes to push through when they feel scared, confused or hesitant. Because one of the most important aspects of being brave is knowing that inside you, “bravery” will always be there when you need it.