5 steps to Foster the Fearless Child!

As a child I grew up curious about everything. I wanted to know how things worked, how they were assembled and what they could do differently. I still, to this day, want to solve a Rubik’s Cube (even though I haven’t focused a full hour on YouTube to make it happen!)

I wanted to be like the Olympians when I watched them win the Olympics. I could feel from my living room as a child, the rush they must feel from being #1. I would practice my cartwheels and flips on the couches. I would dream of someday being amazing too.

I would be the first to volunteer myself to go on stage during an assembly. I would write the poems for the competitions and submit the short stories. Sometimes I won! I would try out for every play,every sport,and if I didn’t get picked I would try again another time.

I would talk other kids into trying new things. I would explain bravery as a child and go first just to eliminate their fears. I was not afraid of anything.

When I grew up and had kids I decided I would make them try everything. If they feared the unknown I would push them just enough to step out of their comfort zone. Sometimes they would surprise me and do things I could never even dream of.

At the age of 7 my daughter jumped off of a 50 foot cliff at Lake Dudu in the Dominican Republic. Teachers would call from school to tell me about my child’s imagination and how she was telling children great fish stories. Imagine the teachers disbelief when I verified her stories and sent pictures in as proof.

I have and will always remain shocked at the child that won’t try the unfamiliar and the parents that encourage this behavior. I wondered what the parents did differently when raising their children compared to how I am raising mine or more importantly how my parents raised me.

I have analyzed this closely and read tons on how to foster confidence in a child and allow them to experiment with their own comfort boundaries.

So what are the 5 major parenting/teaching roles you must foster in your child/student to create a brave and fearless (in the right areas)child/student.

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1. Keep your life long fears away from your child/student.
Parents/teachers that are afraid to swim will often (not all times) never allow their children/student to swim. If you don’t like broccoli,tuna fish,or string beans, keep it to yourself and allow the child to try it anyway. Plenty of times parents will suggest their child doesn’t like something. That’s fine however allowing them to try it again and again is not a bad thing. Not to mention people change their minds daily and so do young children. They will also follow the lead of other adults or children and try something that may surprise you.

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2. Give your child/student their own voice and allow them to use it.
Children from a young age will tell you “No” without any warning. “No, I dont want that, no I dont like that, no I’m not eating that, no I’m not doing that,ect!” Allow them to use their voice if they dont like something. Try not to micromanage the things they like or dont like. Its OK at 7 if your son doesn’t like Thomas the Tank Engine anymore. They are going to eventually grow up. Teach them to use their voice!

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3. Let your child/student be brave and push boundaries.
Naturally children will try your patience and do things that you dont want them to do. Pay attention to the timing of this situation. If you are being pushed and no harm can come of the bravery that is being displayed, then allow the push on your boundary. Let the child learn that pushing can lead to winning. This will create the essential skill of advocating for oneself, being a self starter and not being afraid of a little challenge.

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4. Support your child/student with all safe choices even if you disagree.
If your child wants to be a snowboarder but you think it is unsafe, maybe its time to back off a bit. Let your child attempt greatness in areas that you would never try. If your child wants to try out for a play however you dont think they will make it, let them try out. Its not the end of the world if they fail even if you thought they might. Children need to learn that some things in life dont come naturally and sometimes you aren’t going to get the lead role.

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5. Foster your child/student to dream greatness.
Allow them to design their road map to success. If they decide they want to be a pilot at the age of 9 or a famous soccer player at 4, support the dream. Children can learn in their own time that life can be disappointing.  As parents and educators it is our job to keep children dreaming until they are 99!

 

“F-E-A-R has two meanings: ‘Forget Everything And Run’ or ‘Face Everything And Rise.’ The choice is yours.”  ―Zig Ziglat

 

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Who will your student be? Foster Imagination

Planting creative seeds into children’s minds at a young age helps them to dream. Dreams lead to ideas and ideas lead to innovation. Create the Dreamer!

Preschool and Early Elementary teachers have the power to instill long term dreams into children. Yes, being the president of the united states is the hardest thing in the world. Somebody is going to be the president every 4 years, why not teach the children in your classroom that someday that could be them?

Train young children to dream the unthinkable. The hardest things in the world are being achieved everyday by “NORMAL” people. Everyone has the capability to be amazing at something.

Dream huge and it can come true as proven in history! We should be teaching dreamers.

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Monster Gym: Imagination and Creativity

No one does monsters better than our friends the Muppet’s.  Since 1969 Sesame Street and the Muppet’s have taught children everything from being kind, friendships, family types, eating healthy and let’s not forget exercise!

Children follow these role models on Sesame Street because they are amusing. They allow the children to laugh and play while learning important life lessons.  Our goal as teachers is to make learning just as fun as Sesame Street for 4-8 hours a day in preschool through grade school!

So, let’s use our imagination and creativity to create a fun way to exercise. You may think that all children love to exercise but as a former teacher I can assure you, this is not the case.

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Just like us grown adults, children are very selective about what they want to be doing with their bodies. Have you ever tried to make a 2 year old stand when they wanted to sit? They are relentless and amazing at getting what they want! They will bend their legs, curl their body, flop into a total back bend, swing their neck back, and slowly make their way back to sitting.

You can tell them to stand, tell them what you are doing, talk to them in a child voice, or whatever it takes to get this child to react the way you want. Not working still… Sometimes it can be difficult for a trained teacher to get a child to follow her/his lead. It usually ends up with the student sitting in “think about it” or “time out.”

When these situations occur, no one gets what they wanted. The young student wanted to just sit on the floor. The teacher just wanted to have the child participate. A battle took place and no one is a winner. Not to mention now the youngster isn’t getting any exercise (as state mandated) because there was a failed power struggle.

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So what can we do to make sure our children are having fun, excited to do activities, and joining us in our programs?

#1 ANSWER: Use Imagination and Creativity!

Tired of doing the same old rainy day activities? Musical chairs getting old? Singing in the rain become enough?

Let’s create the Monster Gym inside of your classroom.

1. Welcome Monsters: Greet the monster children as they walk in the door!
I’d probably be a flying fairy monster, with rainbow fur, and giant wings that sprinkled glitter everywhere! (But that’s just me!) Ask them what type of monster they would like to be all week. Write a list of all the monsters and what they look like and put it on the wall.

2. Set up monster gym: Prep ahead of time
• The children will create tiny little dumbbells using Q-tips and mini marshmallows. Take the Q-tip and stick the marshmallows on both ends. This is great for fine motor skills and fun to eat!
• Have the children paint miscellaneous sized boxes. The teacher will write 2,5 &10 lbs on the boxes. These will later be used in a “competition” to see how strong the children have become. Counting by 2’s,5’s &10’s and working on small, medium & large will help develop beginner math!

3. Create an obstacle course: Get on your hands and knees to crawl!
• Have the children navigate an obstacle course. The teacher leads the way from walking slowly around chairs and toys, dropping on the floor and crawling under “the invisible monster” to staying away from the “monster spray” (another teacher has a water bottle-kids love water!) This helps the gross motor skills. Hop on one foot, jumping jacks, and dribbling a ball can be added for extra fun!
• Relay Races are always a fun treat. Have oranges on both sides and the children must run back and forth picking up the oranges for their basket. Healthy monsters are always needed!

4. Cheer leader monsters: For the child who doesn’t want to participate.
• Everyone needs a cheer team. Stand on the sideline with these monsters and yell for their friends. Even the shyest of kids will love to laugh and clap with their friends.

5. Art monsters: Create,create,create….
• Popsicle sticks, googly eyes, puffy paint, colorful balls, construction paper, string, buttons, and glue! Have the child use their imagination to make whatever monster they want to. It may not look like ANYTHING to you but, ask the little monsters what they see and I bet it will surprise you.
• Prep a monster shape ahead of time. Have the children design a prepped monster.
• Use food to make art. What would a monster eat? Chocolate pudding with gummy worms, eyeballs, and jimmies is sure to be a success! Introduce broccoli and spinach to the strong monsters! Can we get them to eat it? Off an award to the strongest monsters!

Monster training is so much fun. Maybe next week we can be horses, unicorns, and Pegasus!

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Photo Credits:

moshimonstercentral.weebly.com 

 www.theguardian.com

insharepics.info

yesterdayontuesday.com

Jim Hensen Studios

www.dreamstime.com