Courage involves making good choices in the face of fear or obstacles. It’s another term for bravery. Remember: Bravery doesn’t mean fearlessness. It means we do not let fear hold us back from exploring new opportunities, developing our skills, and doing what is right. For a five-year-old, courage might look like starting a new school, trying a new activity that stretches them, and learning new skills that take effort.
Help your child be courageous when facing something new:
Help Them Through Their Fears
Pay attention to signs that your child is afraid or nervous in a situation. Offer both emotional support and information that can help them work through their fear. For example, you might say, "That thunder made you jump. Thunder is the sound that lightning makes. It's loud, but it won't hurt you. Let's listen to it together." Daniel Tiger's song reminds us, when we are scared, we should "see what it is, you might feel better."
Prepare Them for New Activities
New adventures — from going to a new class to going to the dentist — can cause kids to worry. Talk about what will happen in advance. For example, before a yearly physical, use a toy doctor's kit to explain what will happen and let them give a check-up to a doll or stuffed animal. This helps them approach situations with knowledge and courage. As the Daniel Tiger song says, "When we do something new, let's talk about what we'll do."
Let Your Child Borrow Your Confidence
Kids look to parents to see, "Should I be scared here?" Psychologists call this "social referencing." For instance, when children see a dog for the first time, they'll look up to mom or dad to assess whether or not the dog is dangerous. If their parent looks relaxed, it's easier for the child to approach the dog. When kids are scared, our instinct might be to help them escape — or to avoid scary situations entirely. But that tells them, "This is too hard for you to handle!" Instead, provide encouragement. Tell your child, "It's hard, but I know you can do it." Show your faith in your child's ability to cope.