What does “bravery” look like in sports?
Most kids think being brave means not being afraid, however, that could not be further from the truth. Being brave doesn’t mean being fearless. It means to try something or to do something even though we are scared. Soccer and sports is a great way to introduce this to your child and help them build the confidence needed to overcome their fears both on and off the field.
By participating in sports such as soccer and HappyFeet during their preschool years, your child can learn to try new things and learn to make mistakes in a safe and supportive environment. It, also, allows your child to develop the tools to take risks and overcome the fear of failing independently, while still knowing you are nearby for support.
What does “bravery” mean in HappyFeet?
Our goal is for every player to become brave creative leaders through our program, but what does that look like? Every child is on their own journey of social, emotional, mental and physical development and we are here to help foster their learning through the game of soccer. Some players may get on the field and be outgoing right away and others may need some time to warm up to their coach and teammates, and that’s okay!
Each player has a different level of self-consciousness that they are exploring, and it takes practice trying new things and failing to help build up their bravery and overcome their fears. HappyFeet helps ease players into this, by breaking down new moves into basic concepts and teaching them through engaging and interactive games and adventures. This allows each player to develop at their own pace, and practice making mistakes in a fun environment. When a player gets scared or makes a mistake, HappyFeet coaches are there to cheer them on and congratulate them for the bravery it took to try in the first place.
How can you encourage “bravery” in your HappyFeeter?
Each player is at a different level of bravery, and as a parent the most important thing is to support them at their level, not the level of others. How can you as a parent accomplish this? There are many ways to help your players through a fear, starting with acknowledging what your player is afraid to try, and reminding them that failing isn’t a bad thing because trying something new is what makes them brave.
If your player is nervous, helping them set small goals to work on during HappyFeet sessions, can help them learn to manage their fear and ultimately overcome it. Depending on where your player is on their developmental journey, you can determine what kind of goals they can work on throughout HappyFeet. A player can work on saying “Hi,” to the coach when they arrive or trying the new soccer move during the scrimmage. Some goals will be easier to achieve than others and your player may get frustrated when they don’t succeed, but reminding them of what they learned when they failed can help them gain the bravery needed to try again.
As a parent, the best thing you can do is stay calm and show confidence in your player. As they learn to make mistakes, they will look to you for judgement. If you show fear or disappointment, they will feel fear and disappointment; but if you show faith and confidence in them, they will also feel that faith and confidence in themselves.
Bravery builds Confidence
As your player develops their bravery skills, their confidence will also grow. This confidence will then spill over into the classroom and other aspects of their life. They will be able to recall how bravery helped them overcome a fear in HappyFeet and use that bravery to overcome a new fear. This will allow them to build confidence in all aspects of their life.
Further Reading & References:
"Teaching Kids Courage, Resilence, and Character Through Sports" - Patrick Cohn, Youth Sports Psychology
"Courage Before Confidence" - Dr. Tom Golightly, Associate Clinical Director at BYU Counseling and Psychological Services
"Becoming Brave: Help Your Child Move Past Fear" - Dr. Eileen Kennedy-Moore, Clinical Pyschologist