Wednesday, July 17, 2024
The Parents' Voice

Trying new things

Stepping out of your comfort zone and trying new things can be a very hard thing for people, including children, to do. How often do we go through this with children? It could be new schools, new sports, new siblings, new friends/playdates, new activities, new food . . . change happens so often in a child’s world. The thing is, not all children are excited for change, some are terrified and anxious and seriously need help with these transitions. I’ve needed to rely on these clues quite a few times in my children’s lives thus far, we made a really big change in their lives a few years back, and boy, did we have to prepare for it in all ways. It ended up working out but it was super scary for all of us.
Routine is comfortable and knowing what to expect is safe, it’s no wonder some children are averse to trying new things – it can be scary and uncomfortable. Sometimes it’s about confidence, having the confidence to try something new and fail, or not be good at it. Sometimes it’s anxiety – the stress of being out of that safe feeling of familiarity is just too much. It’s not realistic to expect that our children will go through life without those feelings of fear; therefore, it is our job to prepare them. How to help them try new things:
1- Remind them of past wins. Kids easily forget what they’ve accomplished and may need coaching to be reminded of what they can do. Ways to highlight their accomplishments could be starting an “I did it” wall where they can add sentences, pictures, or words of things they’ve done that have made them proud. Alternatively, they could start an “I can” jar so kids can put special moments in the jar as a keepsake to go back and read them when they need reminding.
2- Expose them to varied activities and situations from a young age. Before they try the new thing or activity prepare them by giving them a rundown of what to expect – and if you don’t know what they should expect – find out. Like I mentioned earlier, some kids will definitely shy away from choosing new experiences, if we set these up in a safe way it may make that easier on them. For example, the first time they do a new activity see if you can be with them to help them get acquainted so they aren’t navigating all the new things on their own. Be close by in case they need reassuring words, a glance or a hug, after the first few times that may be enough for them to soar on their own. I’ve seen my kids adjust to this over the years and it’s pretty incredible to see the progression. They’ve just started a new activity and walked right in without me – for the first time. It was pretty spectacular to see, it’s definitely been a journey.
3- Try new experiences together as a family. Talk about new adventures, showing kids that learning is a lifelong pursuit is a great way to lead by example. As they practice trying new skills out with their family they will learn that it’s ok to try something new and love it, or decide it isn’t for you, you may fail at it, you may excel at it – it’s all ok. Hopefully this will help them gain the confidence to jump in feet first over time.
Sometimes we can simply help by saying the right things, here are some sentences that could help promote bravery and confidence in your little ones.
You don’t have to get it the first time.
Not everything works out the way we think it will, and that’s ok.
All I want for you is to try.
Being nervous means you’re challenging yourself. Good job.
Everyone has to learn, even the experts.
I believe in you.
You are strong, determined and persistent. You never give up.
You were scared but you did it anyways, wow, that’s incredibly brave.
You are such a hard worker.
It’s OK if you didn’t like this the first time.
It’s OK to take breaks.
In the end, you help your kiddos try new things by being their biggest cheerleader. With you by their side, they can do anything.

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