Let’s face it - trying new things can be daunting sometimes.
Parenting has its challenges. Something as simple as getting kids to try new things can be a herculean task! We have all sat there coaxing our child for hours at end only to get a persistent NO. If that’s a case you, check out our 7 strategies to inspire children to try new things.
Some children are more open to unknown situations - whether it be travel or a new type of food, whereas others are not. This is similar to some adults who prefer to stick to and thrive on a routine, while others may be open to branching out and testing limits. This fear of trying new things could be for several reasons, including the environment, past experiences, and even temperament.
However, as parents it’s our duty to expose children to new things. To give them more opportunities with varied perspectives. Here are some useful ways to nudge your little one in the right direction
1. THE HOLY GRAIL - Be supportive of Effort, Progress and the Process
Show your child that success isn’t necessarily dependent on outcomes. Success can mean a willingness to try, give your best effort, and show increasingly gradual progress and improvement.
If your goal is for your child to be fearless in the face of new challenges, showing them that ‘’success’’ is not necessarily dependent on outcomes, could be a powerful start!
2. Make an ‘’ I CAN’’ Can
Print out strips of colored or plain paper that have the sentence starter ‘’ I can__’’ written on them. Then allow your child to fill in the blanks. Help them to brainstorm and churn up some ideas that relate to them and what they may be struggling with. Put the strips in a can, and have your child add more strips any time he/she learns a new skill or conquers a new challenge.
3. Keep an “Adventure Diary’’
Write about all the times your child was brave and attempted something new and update the diary as often as you can. You may add photos, small mementos or notes, and even some drawings. Don’t forget to include details of how well your child did and how much fun you both had when he/she tried this new activity!
4. Ask the Right Questions
Self-reflection isn’t easy as adults and even more so as a child. Get your child to reflect and ponder by asking questions like, ‘’Is there anything that was difficult before or a little scary, that is now easier for you? Really try and dig deep on the ‘how’ and ‘why’.
A few other thought provokers:
Name something you’d like to do now but have been scared to try. How can I help you with that?
How long do you think it takes people to get good at something new, like learning an instrument or playing a new sport?
Can you think of something some people are just naturally good at without having to learn and practice? (Your child probably won’t be able to think of many answers to this question.)
5. Incorporate Brain Breaks
You could incorporate short activities that disrupt the monotony of your child’s current task. You can suggest a quick game of scissors-rock-paper or even challenge your child to complete a story starter.
Why you ask? Because these brain breaks are a bit silly, they lighten the mood (and the pressure) and takes their mind off their fears. Children tend to come back to the task at hand, refreshed and with renewed energy.
6. Conduct Dress Rehearsals
Easy Peasy! If your child is nervous about meeting his teacher or perhaps new friends for the first time, you can pretend to be the new person and let your child practice how he/she will greet them. Practicing conversations and situations may put them at ease and reduce their nervousness.
7. Make a Bravery Ladder
In her book ‘Growing Up Brave’, Dr. Donna Pincus explains that taking baby steps towards a new challenge, can reduce a child’s fears and anxieties.
She suggests using a ‘bravery ladder’. Creating a bravery ladder helps your child identify steps that will help them gradually achieve a new skill or conquer a specific fear. Think of it like learning to ride a bike by starting with training wheels.
If your child is afraid to get in a pool, try playing in sprinklers first and allowing the water to touch their faces. Over time, your child will confront their fears and gain confidence with each ‘rung’ as they advance on the bravery ladder. Praise your child’s progress to build their confidence and to make them feel encouraged and motivated.
Helping our children overcome their fear of attempting something new, aids them to reach their fullest potential. These strategies and activities are not only fun, but also they help children build their confidence and build positive memories associated with trying new things!
Do bear in mind that every child is individually different and change takes time.
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