Going for that tricky trek up the hill, making new friends at the park, climbing up a tress, learning to swim, eating something completely new, playing all sorts of fun games at birthday parties… All of this sounds so much fun and exciting! Our kids need to develop an adventurous spirit, to be able to enjoy life. Even to take the curveballs that life throws at us, we need an easygoing adventurous spirit.
However, many kids are naturally not very outgoing. They tend to be shy and are sometimes fearful of new, unknown experiences. In order to change that and motivate kids to be a little outgoing and moderately adventurous, parents need to model that behavior. If you are overtly cautious, scared and absolutely not outgoing, your kids would tend to pick that vibe from you. However, if you are risk-averse but adventurous in a good natured manner, you could motivate your kids to experience life in a positive, cheerful manner.
What doesn’t help is when we challenge our kids to go out there and do things. If we ask questions like “What, are you scared?” “Stop being a baby” and things like that, we are demotivating the kids. Such statements only make the kids feel more insecure and unwilling to try new things.
So how to kindle a sense of adventure in your kids?
- Stick to positive motivation, support and encouragement. They can go a long way in helping kids feel adventurous, confident and willing to take on new challenges.
- Do not encroach on their space. Step back and let them explore life a little on their own. Be aware, be there, watch and have their back, but let them do things on their own as well.
- Keep safety in mind but allow your child the space and time to move at their own pace.
- Do not judge. What seems simple to us maybe exciting and challenging for our kids. I still remember my first train ride by myself through the Bombay local trains when I was all of 16. I was so proud of myself to have managed that!
- Avoid being the direction person. Guide just a little but stay away from mollycoddling.
- Never undermine your child’s own explorations. That could seriously discourage kids from trying something new
- Do stick to healthy, genuine appreciation. Use words of confidence like “I am so proud of your for trying this!” “Did you enjoy the new sport that you are learning?” “Was irt tough to strike up conversations with the new kids at college?” “That looked tricky. But you didn’t give up! You are so brave!” “Way to go, buddy!”
- Be a positive and happy person yourself, as far as you feasibly can be. Be explorative and a little adventurous. Your zest for life will rub off on your kids.
- Do understand and find out more about the little things that interest your kids. Nurture and encourage them even if their interests are completely different from yours. You may be an outdoorsy person but if you child loves to play new instruments, let him go for it! If you daughter loves to run, even though she falls and scrapes her knees often, just get her better shoes and knee pads!
- Avoid reminding them about their errors over and over again. Just stick to revisiting the lessons that the failures taught. After all, that’s all failures are for.
- Use and model positive affirmations such as “I can try and try again!”, and “I can do it.” This can be particularly good for a child that is teetering between confident and scared about an upcoming event or activity.
- Do be open to point out your own failures. That helps kids realize that it’s okay to fail, as long as you learn from it.
- Do talk about scary experiences where you could overcome your fears and conquer challenges.
- Finally do take out the time to try new things together with your kids. Be it new kind of food, sport or another activity.
- Do remember that your kids might not excel at everything that they try or at the things that you love. Do respect the uniqueness of your child.
Nurture that adventurous spirit in your child and watch them soar through life.