The other day, Troy, Evan and I were in the mountains walking our dog Stitch when Evan developed a sudden fear of red ants on the ground. These are the same ants we walk over on our hikes every single day, but now he wanted me to carry him and protect him from the ants. I saw this as a perfect opportunity for a life lesson.
“Evan, do you know what courage is?”
“No, what is it?”
“It’s when you feel afraid of something, but you do it anyway. That’s how you build courage. Building courage is the only way to become brave.”
He thought about it for a moment.
I continued, “Do you want me to carry you or would you like to try using your courage?”
“I want to be brave!” He said, and then marched right over those ants with a smile on his face.
Each day since, he storms through the fields over those ants, and calls out “Look Mommy! I’m brave!” He feels great about himself. He feels empowered, and that’s what I want for him.
|Evan loves bugs- this is a caterpillar he found.|
Courage is a muscle that becomes weak and atrophies without use. As far as I’m concerned, it’s never too early for Evan to start flexing this muscle. Lord knows he’ll need it later in life. I've relied on this muscle more than any other for the past two years.
If I try to shield my son from the difficulties of life, how will he have the confidence or skills to face challenges on his own? How will he respond to new situations, or to a bully on the playground?
I want him to get a jump on this, so life doesn’t kick his ass later. The truth is, we’re all going to be faced with situations in life that scare us, and when that happens, how are we going to rise to meet it? Are we going to run away and hide? Expect someone else to deal with it for us? Stuff our fear away through addictions? Denial? I want my kid to walk into his life with courage.