Click here for shortcuts to regional language blogs and city-specific events.
Kids are naturally brave and naturally fearless, whether it’s taking a leap of faith to trust someone or holding back because something just doesn’t feel right. But isn’t it always considered brave to take the leap of faith? Why do some kids hold back and why are they still called brave? What exactly is BRAVE?
I recently took my kids to the playground on a typical weekend morning, with scores of families with young kids around. While observing my kids as they jumped on and off the slides at a maniacal pace (it really scares me when they do this but I don’t want to spoil their spirit of adventure so I keep mum about my “fear”) I noticed another family with two kids, who were aged maybe around 2 and 4 years old.
When it was the younger kids turn to get onto the slide, she did so without any fear, in the rough and tumble excited way that is so typical of all toddlers, all while screaming “I’m coming, I’m coming, catch me mumma!” So many people around us laughed and said “Look at her, she’s so brave. She’s so excited and so fearless.”
However, when it was the elder kids turn to go onto the slide, he hung back, with wide eyes, hanging onto his mom’s leg. Everyone around him looked at him expectantly, urging him to go onto the slide, but he said quite firmly- “I am not sure that I will enjoy it. So I don’t want to go onto this slide.”
Before his parents could say a word, everyone around him started urging him to get onto the slide. “Sure you will enjoy it. Go on. Be brave. Look, your little sister did it and she has such a good time. You will love it too. Be fearless. Go already!”
The little boys grasp on his moms leg tightened noticeably. To my amazement, his mom knelt down, and contrary to everyone’s expectations, said loudly and clearly “Wow. That is so BRAVE of you sweetie. I’m proud of you. Even though all these people around you are pushing you on, you listened to your own voice and your own reasoning instead of all of them. I am very very proud of you. You know what is best for you, and you are not scared to act on it, even though everyone around is telling you otherwise. You are fearless my boy, you are brave, in your own way. Just like your sister was brave to get on the slide, you are fearless to listen to your inner voice.”
I was amazed at this incredibly life lesson imparted in the simplest of ways on the playground by a mom, who like every other mom just wants the best for her kids, and wants them to be brave and fearless, irrespective of what everyone around them is saying.
I think it’s very important to teach children, and of course ourselves as well, that saying NO is often as brave as saying YES. That while fearlessness is a sign of courage, caution is also a sign of fearlessness and thus courage.
Because the little boy who said NO to getting up on the slide as he did not feel comfortable about it will definitely become an elder boy who says NO clearly in the face of pressure to bully a peer, or drown a beer.
Whether the answer is YES or NO, fearlessness is inherently present in every child who goes against the mob mentality and pleases their own inner self before pleasing others. We have to call these kids BRAVE in front of the whole world who is watching, loudly and proudly. We have to laud them for having the wisdom at that tender age to listen to their own voice and the courage to speak it out loud. Even if others around are disappointed or annoyed. ESPECIALLY THEN.
We absolutely must teach our kids that brave people only answer to ONE voice and that is the voice that arises within. Brave people are just people who trust themselves more than they trust the crowd, and that is what makes them truly fearless.
To give our kid a fearless, brave childhood, we as parent must also tell them and prove it day after day with our actions, words and thoughts what being brave and fearless means exactly.
It does not mean that they are afraid to do something but they do it anyways. It means listening to your inner voice and doing as it says. Fearlessness and bravery is extremely personal, and extremely relative.
The little girl in the park- her bravery and fearlessness was of the LOUD, GO FOR IT type.
The little boy was equally brave and fearless; he was quiet and listened to his inner voice.
They were both BRAVE. They were both TRUE TO THEMSELVES.
And that’s what we all need to teach our kids- to have a brave, fearless childhood, in which they shine because they trust themselves implicitly.
In giving our kids a brave, fearless childhood, wherein all of us can dream that #KhuljayeBachpan, we must always trust our little ones to be brave, and back them up when they attempt this bravery and fearlessness!