Below is an email from one of our wonderful karate moms (I've changed the names for privacy.).
This email is a real life and perfect example of what I have been teaching our parents - COURAGE is an emotional skill! As such, it is very hard to teach intellectually or mentally. It is even hard to teach just physically. You can share reasons with your child about why they need to be brave. You can talk to them until you are blue in the face to not let fear stop them. You can show them examples of courage or model it yourself but none of these rarely work. What does work? To feel the intense, deep, debilitating emotion of fear then experience the empowering emotion of powering through it. This instantaneously build courage like nothing else. (By the way, it works the opposite way too. When you feel these emotions and you back away? This is where small fears grow into bigger fears and later, anxieties.)
But here is the key - your SMALL fears! It is not your few big fears that knock you down, it is your many daily small fears. So just become more aware and notice all the daily small fears. Not only are they easier to smash (before they get big), but they give you chance to learn and practice courage every day! Repetition develops habits.
Below is an email from a mom that illustrates this valuable parenting tool:
We usually try to “practice what we preach” lessons learned inside school and our home; the dojo is no different. With this current SEL theme, “Whenever I back away from my fears, my fears get bigger, but every time I power through my fear, my fears get smaller!” We try to incorporate this into everyday. And thanks to our dog, we didn’t have to wait very long to put this into motion.
Kendra has been practicing with her nanchukus, especially because the reverse figure 8 is so difficult for all of us. She forgot to put her nanchukus away after practice one night, and our dog (who is VERY much still a lot of “puppy”) chewed them into oblivion. We told her that she would need to tell Sensei what happened. She was SO scared to tell you Sensei.
The next day was our karate class as well as a private Zoom meeting with Sensei. Kendra did well through the class, but at the private session, she completely fell apart in fear. She couldn’t hardly talk.
Together, we were able to tell Sensei about the nanchukus- and the relief that washed over Kendra - it was the weight of the world lifted! Not only that, but she seemed to “walk a little taller” and had a big smile on her face. Even though her fear told her bad things like “Sensei is going to be so mad at me!”, she still faced the situation head on and is definitely stronger for it.
Thank you for the lesson. And thank you for being kind and gracious when we stumble.