'Courage is found in unlikely places' – J.R.R Tolkien
This week is Children's Mental Health Week, with the theme for this year being 'Find Your Brave'.
When was the last time you felt brave? Where were you and what did you do? You may have tried a new hobby or made a speech in front of a group of people. Bravery comes in many shapes and forms and can look very different for all of us. Sometimes being brave means overcoming a huge hurdle, whilst at other times it can be conquering something small which has felt daunting or overwhelming for a long time.
When things are tough and we are perhaps struggling with our mental health, it can often be difficult to be brave. For children and young people this can be made harder still, so how can we best support them in overcoming obstacles and help them to be brave?
- Remind them that being brave means something different to everyone. If their feelings of bravery are overshadowed by the perception that someone else has been braver than them, remind them that their own achievement was brave. It can often take a huge amount of bravery to overcome a small fear or challenge!
- Share your own experiences of being brave. By opening up and letting them know about times when you have needed to be brave, children and young people will feel more able to share their experiences. This is great for starting and maintaining a dialogue with children and young people about their worries and how to overcome them.
- Let them know that not feeling brave is okay too. It's not always possible to muster the strength to overcome challenges and the ability to recognise and accept this is a hugely brave step too! Just because they couldn't manage to be brave today, it doesn't mean they won't be able to overcome that challenge tomorrow, or next week or even next year.
- Talk about challenges and make plans to overcome them. Having conversations about what worries children and young people is a great way to identify ways of overcoming the challenges they face as a result of these anxieties. Taking each obstacle at a time and planning how this might be overcome can really help to empower children and give them the belief that they can be brave, even when they might be really scared.
- Look for examples of bravery in books and films. So many children's books and films are centred around characters finding solutions to problems or overcoming obstacles. There are plenty of examples of hugely heroic characters facing their fears, but also try hunting out for characters who face small and 'everyday' fears too as children and young people may be able to relate more to these.