Three Types Of Bravery I Want My Kids To Have
Bravery is a bit like Lady Gaga – it can pull off quite a few different looks.
I was reminded of this a few weeks ago when my husband Brad and I took our three kids to a big water park – you know, because we hate ourselves (kidding!).
At one point, my eight-year-old decided that, despite his life-long fear of heights, he wanted to go on a rather terrifying slide. Needless to say, I was gobsmacked.
Still, Brad led him up an enormous set of stairs and queued with him for 15 minutes in the sun, until they finally got to the front of the line, ready to slide – and…
No way. Too high. Too scary.
As they came back down the stairs together, I was waiting at the bottom with my other two kids, ready to launch into my soothing “It doesn’t matter! Try again next time!” speech – but my determined child beat me to it.
“I WANT TO DO THIS. I’m doing it. I can do this. Can someone take me up again?”
It was like he’d been to a Tony Robbins seminar.
He turned to his big sister, Ava, and said, “Will you please go with me?”
And you know what she said?
In truth, it was a lot nicer than that. Here’s what she actually said:
“I’m really sorry, but no. I’m not doing that ride. I’ll do those other ones over there, but I’m not doing that one. I don’t do rides like that.”
Though he was disappointed, my son shrugged and went back up the stairs with Brad – and this time, he dug deep, whooshed down that slide and LOVED it.
In this experience, I saw three really different moments of bravery.
- Pulling the pin. When something is freaking you out, it’s really brave to say, “I’m not okay” or “I’m not ready for this”. That takes ENORMOUS courage and vulnerability – the kind of bravery we want our kids to have when they’ve been swept up in something risky and things feel off.
- Getting back in the ring. My eight-year-old decided – with no outside pressure – that actually, YES! He could do that slide, and he was going back up there. This is the kind of bravery I want my kids to have when it’s time to push through the nerves and experience something new.
- Holding true to boundaries. My daughter loves her brother very much but she does NOT do certain waterpark or theme park rides. I was really proud of her for doing the right thing for her – even if it meant disappointing her brother. I want all my kids to have the strength to say, “I don’t do [insert out-of-bounds activity]”. This year, it’s waterslides, but in the future, it could be ANYTHING.
I wish someone had had conversations with me about personal boundaries and bravery when I was a kid, because it takes courage to be unapologetically yourself. It’s okay to not like water slides or horror movies or sleepovers or parties – you do you.
P.S. if you have a child or teen who struggles with bravery — my go-to person when it comes to all things anxiety, depression and bravery is Karen Young, creator of the website Hey Sigmund. Check it out here.
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Over the past 25 years Rebecca Sparrow has earned a living as a travel writer, a television publicist, a marketing executive, a magazine editor, a TV scriptwriter, a radio producer, a newspaper columnist and as an author.