Sadly, statistics indicate that one in four Australian students aged between 8 and 14 years old report being bullied every few weeks. Due to the harmful physical and psychological impact it can have on young children, strategies on how to be brave are paramount.
Co-authors, Hester Leung and Sema Musson of empowering pre-teen book Being Brave know themselves the damaging effects bullying can have and share their tips on how to encourage your child to be brave and navigate difficult situations.
If the words and actions of others are repeatedly and deliberately causing harm – it is bullying.
“As a parent you can feel powerless when you have a child that is being bullied, but there are things you can do. You can learn to recognise bullying behaviour, talk to the school, get professional advice and make sure your child knows that you are there,” said Sema.
“Additionally, if your child can learn when they are young how to navigate difficult situations, this can help build their resilience and confidence. You can show them some tools to be brave and we are all braver than we think. Being brave is not about being the hero, it’s about teaching your child to have the confidence to speak up, be themselves and get back up and try again when something doesn’t work out,” added Hester.
Here, Sema and Hester share five ways to help encourage your child to be brave:
1. Be curious
“Let your child know that it is okay not to know the answer. No one can know the answer to everything – Not even you as their parent! Encourage them to be curious and create an open dialogue between yourself and your child – Urge them to ask for support when things are weighing in and don’t feel right,” said Sema.
2. Practice mindfulness
Internal noise can be so unwavering, and sometimes it can get too much for adults and children alike. “Mindfulness is just as important for kids as it is for busy parents. Encourage your child to go outside, immerse themselves in nature and breathe in the fresh air. Teaching your child to deliberately breath in and out will calm their mind down and is a good tool to have when they’re experiencing self-doubt and frustrations,” said Hester.
3. Tell a positive story
Sema says “Self-doubt is a challenge one will go through during many points in life, and it can be tricky dealing with it at its inception. If your child is telling themselves things like ‘I can’t, I’m wrong, I will fail’ a parent has to try and divert this into a positive story.” Sema suggests speaking words of positivity and affirmation such as ‘You are kind, you are smart, you are important.’ “Be sure to emphasise to your child that it is important to get back up again even when things don’t work out,” she added.
4. Write it all down
Teaching your child to utilise certain tools can be an effective way to manage self-esteem issues and help them to find confidence. “Journaling can be a very effective way to help your child clear their head. It is stimulating for them and allows them to connect their thoughts and help to see another perspective,” says Hester.
5. Trust in your children
It can be easy to get caught up in competition at school, however it is important for a parent to let their child be aware that things do not need to be perfect, and that they don’t need to be perfect. “Let your child know that it is okay to get something wrong and feel unsure, feel free to share the mistakes you’ve made and how you learned. Most importantly, let your child know you love them for who they are and that they are brave by being themselves,” says Sema.
Being Brave (RRP $19.95) is available from Amazon, other online outlets and for order from bookshops.