We Bought a Zoo—Instilling Insane Courage in Your Child
In We Bought a Zoo, widowed dad Benjamin Mee, played by Matt Damon, is working to instill a sense of courage and adventure in his children. They are dealing with a great loss and a big transition in their lives, so Benjamin feels the responsibility of equipping his children to tackle life head on. He sums this philosophy up by saying to his son, "All you need is 20 seconds of insane courage, and I promise you, something great will come of it."
This is a great lesson for all dads. Here are some tips for how you can instill a sense of courage and adventure in your children.
5 Tips for Instilling Courage in your Child
- #1: Encourage your children to take risks: Sure, trying out for the school baseball team can be a bit intimidating. Even something as simple as knocking on the neighbor's door to invite the kid next door to play outside can be risky - but your child might make a new friend! Encourage your children to try new things, even if they don't have a 100% guarantee of success. Talk with them about their fears and help them identify the potential for positive outcomes through taking risks.
- #2: Help your kids learn from failure: Not every risk leads to a positive outcome. Your kid might not make the baseball team. The neighbor might not be interested in being friends with your child. Be compassionate when your children experience disappointment, but also help them identify what they learned from trying something new or making mistakes. They will end up stronger individuals through learning from failure.
- #3: Affirm your children's strengths: It's so important for children to receive affirmation from their dads. Regularly commenting on the character qualities and talents your children exhibit will boost their self-esteem and build their confidence so that when they have the opportunity for "20 seconds of insane courage," they are ready to go! And when they experience failure, your kids will need you to remind them that the disappointment does not make them any less wonderful of a person.
- #4: Don't be afraid to be a little "crazy" yourself: Set the example of "insane courage" yourself by taking risks, being unpredictable, and embracing your wild side. If you're going to encourage your kids to try something new, you should also! Whether it's heading out for a weekend of backpacking and camping with the kids, joining an adult basketball league, or taking a college course, find your own "20 seconds of insane courage."
- #5: Know that you play an important role: Research has shown that dads have a unique role to play, different from moms, in enabling their children to explore and take chances. Even rough-and-tumble play boosts children's self-confidence and teaches them self-control and empathy. Check out this article on the topic, and then get on the floor and do a little wrestling with your kids! It's not just a fun time - it's character building, and it's something that you uniquely contribute to your child's life.
"All you need is 20 seconds of insane courage, and I promise you, something great will come of it."