How We Teach Our Kids (And Ourselves) To Be Brave

As a mama bear, it’s hard to find that balance between wanting to protect my kids from everything uncomfortable or scary and wanting them to try new things and face their fears. But I know that the more I encourage them to do hard things while they’re still under my wing, the better prepared they’ll be to face more difficult situations when they fly the coop. (And oh my goodness I don’t even want to think about when that day is coming!).

Today was such a prime example of that! We were given an incredible opportunity to fly out to NYC for a segment on Good Morning America; and here’s a Powell Family First: We got to include the kids!

That’s right, mama may have called them in sick to school today (cough, cough), but what better reason to play hooky ONE TIME than to do something really amazing like 1) face some major fears, and 2) show America how they can work together with their families to be healthy! (Ahhh…I’m tearing up as I write this because this mom is SO PROUD!).

As excited as we all were, the nerves this morning were high, guys (except with Miss Ruby, ahem.. Katy Perry painted lips, tattoos, and all. She was born for the spotlight!). Matix and Marley were so nervous they were going to make a mistake or say the wrong thing. In short, they were terrified of “looking bad” in front of America. 

I had to honestly sit them down and explain that I feel that same way sometimes! Getting up in front of the world is NOT easy. Sometimes even just showing up for ourselves isn’t easy, but it’s SO important to face those fears head on and really try, otherwise we could be missing out on some amazing opportunities. 

I started this blog post about how we can teach our kids to be brave, but I really had to take note, and I encourage you to do the same! These are tactics that I have to remind MYSELF every now and then when I’m starting to feel nervous or even insecure because, let’s face it, we ALL feel insecure sometimes!

So we went out there today, and we gave it our all! And you know what? At the end of the segment, the kids felt like a million bucks. They were SO proud of themselves, and they should be! They set aside their fears, and they went out there and rocked it! They stood up and did something that is changing and empowering lives! Such champs. 

We’ve been working on becoming braver a lot this summer, and another opportunity we had to face some fears came about during a Powell Family Day! 

Chris and I have been lucky enough to experience this before, and it’s something the kids were wanting to try as well! So we decided to take the kids indoor skydiving at iFly. They were all big talkers until we got there and they saw just how the process really works! 

Yes, you’re in an air chamber and not actually jumping out of a plane, but it still takes some major guts! It feels like you’re free falling in the air, but it’s SO fun once you get up there. Ruby was a little hesitant at first, but she watched us jump in and have fun, and before we knew it, she was floating in the air like a little skydiving champ. It was so fun to try something new as a family and practice being brave.

Since Chris and I have one experience under out belts, I had him go first to show us all how it’s done! Cash wasn’t sure what to think of the whole thing in the beginning, but he conquered his fear and ended up loving every single minute of it! The entire experience was SO fun, and it was a great way to bond as a family and try something new together! The kids have been asking when we can go back! 

Facing fears is no easy task, but one of the most important things we can do as parents is teach our children how to stand up and be brave! 

Here are five ways we teach our kids to be brave—but let’s be honest, sometimes it’s the adults who need these tips even more! Let’s all start being a little braver together. Grab my hand, we’ll jump together! Here we go.

Get over perfection. A huge part of bravery is being OK with imperfection. If you’ve been around for a minute, you know all about my stand on being perfectly imperfect. If kids (or adults!) think they have to do something just the right way, it’ll scare them out of even trying. At our house, we try to praise mistakes and even failure as part of the process instead of being critical of getting every detail just right. When it comes to trying something new or improving at something, it’s not about being the best. It’s about doing your best. Everyone starts out as a beginner!

Encourage, don’t force. As you can probably tell, we’re sort of an adventurous family. We love to challenge ourselves and try new things. When it comes to our kids, we encourage our kids to try new things, but we NEVER make them feel bad if they choose not to. Instead, we focus on strong encouragement and rewards then overpraising if they try it. Again, it doesn’t matter how imperfect the effort was. It’s the trying that matters! I’m sure there are parenting experts out there somewhere who say ixnay on the rewards, but hey..it works wonders for our family. Sometimes kids need that extra little incentive to try something they otherwise would talk themselves out of! (And let’s be honest, sometimes adults need that, too!).

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Challenging yourself always comes with some level of discomfort. But often, the things that scare you most turn out to be the best opportunities of your life! We try to teach our kids to still do things, even when they’re scared (just like today!) That means we, as the parents, have to let go of our fears too when we see our sweet kiddos struggling through something that’s helping them grow and learn. Just like when our kids started ISR (self-rescue survival swimming lessons). Each one of them started their first lessons under the age of one, and they continued in lessons until they all hit about age five. It was difficult at times, especially when Ruby was younger, for me to see her cry and want me to save her from having to go underwater and learn to swim. But the more I showed her in my face and in my words that I knew she could do this, the more confidence she had in herself. Show your kids your confidence in them. If they sense your fear and anxiety, they’ll feed off of it.

Teach them to find self-confidence regardless of what others say. Cash loves dancing. He’s in dance lessons, and he is awesome, you guys. More importantly than that, he loves it! Of course, there are people who snicker and say things. But we try to teach him (and all of our kids) that it doesn’t matter. People’s negative judgments have nothing to do with us, and everything to do with them. If they are confident in finding what they love and are good at, it shouldn’t matter what other people choose to say or do.

Lead by example. Modeling the behavior you want your kids to adopt really is the most powerful way to teach them. The more you get comfortable with trying things even though they scare you, or you might look silly or get criticized, the more your kids will see that as stuff you just work through to reach for the stars! We were all nervous to go on air this morning for Good Morning America. But we did it anyway, because we knew we were doing something really importantOnce they saw that Chris and I were excited and ready to go (nerves and all), it really helped get them amped up for the cameras to start rolling! 

Being brave isn’t always easy. Sometimes, it’s really stinking hard. But like I said, these are not just lessons for the kids! Sometimes they teach us more than we teach them. Kids have a natural way of being less self-conscious and not getting into their heads about what people will think, but just doing what makes them happy.. and that’s a lesson we all could learn from!

So go ahead—do something brave this week. As always, I’d love to hear about it!

xo

Heidi

Related reading:

7 Steps to a Happier Home
My Biggest Mom Regrets + Time to Focus on Family || Months Six & Seven
Screen Time Killing + Boredom Busting Workout for Kids of All Ages (even 40+!)
Get Outside and Celebrate Earth Day!
Sharpen the Saw || Unplug and plug IN to LIFE!


1 Comment

  1. Lauren - August 19, 2018

    This is perfect. This will be so helpful when my daughter heads off to college next week. I now know the right things to say. Thanks

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