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Brave New Child: 8 Smart Ways to Teach Independence, Self-Confidence & Resilience

If you're like me, the notion of "risk-taking" kids conjures up images of broken bones -- or even worse. Yet whether it's a baby tasting a spoonful of strained spinach, a toddler taking her first steps, or a preschooler telling the truth about a mess he's made, all kids need a courageous spirit to adjust to the surefire changes that come along with growing up.
child pretending to be superman Get Ready, Set, Go!

When he was a toddler, my son, Gabe, loved to dress up as Superman. Turns out it was a pretty good choice. Fortunately, he didn't try to leap tall buildings in a single bound, but as he got older, he became a champ at mustering courage and taking a chance. If a magician at a birthday party asked for volunteers, his hand shot up. The merry-go-round's tallest horse always grabbed his interest. New friends? The more, the merrier. Unlike his nail-biting mom, Gabe was naturally spunky, so I had to learn early on to stifle my own anxiety, breathe deeply, and let him take safe risks.

A child's sense of bravery may also shift depending on the situation. "Some kids may hide behind a parent's legs when meeting strangers but be fearless when trying out a new scooter," says Susan Davis, Ph.D., coauthor of Raising Children Who Soar. "However, the good news is that all kids yearn to explore their world." That's why it's so important to encourage your child's sense of adventure and self-confidence. These smart strategies will do just that.