I heard a great phrase the other day…. “Courage precedes confidence”.
Think about it… before you were a successful driver, you needed to have the courage to give it a go, to practice, and to keep at it even when you made mistakes or couldn’t change gears without ‘crunching’ it.
Or when you went for the job interview for a position you really wanted – you may have had mock interviews with your friend’s support, and even practised in front of the mirror, to make sure you knew what to say and how you looked.
The phrase ‘courage precedes confidence’ is also true in parenting, both as the parent or the child, and in our relationships within our family.
A baby needs an element of courage to crawl off and explore parts of the house, or to try standing again even when they’ve fallen down three times.
A toddler is fuelled by a desire to explore their world, and the courage to leave Mum or Dad’s side to do so… whether it’s climbing the stairs for the slippery dip, or putting their hands in mud or shaving cream for the first time.
Young children learn about courage when they go to Pre-Kindy or Childcare and they have to say goodbye to their parent(s). They may have tears and fears about your return, but they learn to be courageous and stay with the carers until your return. After a while they are confident to do so.
School age children use courage to approach children in the playground to ask whether they can play together, and they learn to have the courage to have a go at sounding words out as they are learning to read.
In each example the children needed to be willing to give it a go, to repeat and practise it, and only then were they confident to do it.
In parenting it’s the same process. Think back to your birthing experience. For most women (and men) there’s a bit of fear mixed in with the excitement of an impending birth. No matter how many books you’ve read and dvd’s you’ve watched, there is still apprehension about the process, and the birthing experience takes courage to travel through the contractions and the pain, or the fear of a caesarian to deliver a child. The second time is a little easier because you know what to expect, and you are generally more confident.
When you had this new little baby to care for at home, without any hospital staff or family members to support you, it again was a mix of excitement and fear of not knowing what to do, or doing it wrong in some way. It took courage to give it a go, and to learn the best way to feed your baby or how to hold him when you gave him a bath. The more you did it, your confidence grew.
When parents model being courageous or brave they show their children how to do it. It doesn’t mean brave enough to climb Mt Everest, or wrestle a crocodile….. it’s about everyday courage – learning to cook a new recipe, or to take a dance class with two left feet! It could be learning a new language, or going to a new playgroup or pram walking group. New things often feel uncomfortable because we haven’t done them before, and it takes an element of courage to give it a go. Over time it becomes more comfortable and we end up feeling confident in it.
So, what can you do new this week, to step outside your comfort zone? Be courageous and do it, knowing that with practise you will be confident in it! And, it’s great modelling for your children!
Happy Courageous Parenting!