Several kids are in line behind the high dive ladder, all hopping from foot to foot to minimize the burn from the hot cement. At the top of the ladder is a 6-year-old kid biting his nails on one hand and clutching the hand rail with the other.
The lifeguards in the water, and his parents in the bleachers all shout to the child, "Don't be afraid!"
Why do we say that?
When someone tells you, "C'mon don't be mad," does your anger suddenly turn off? No, of course not! We all feel what we feel, and we have to respect each others emotions.
Instead of dismissing your child's feelings when facing a new task validate the fear and say, "It's okay to be afraid, but don't let it stop you!"
Depending on the child's age and mental capacity you can give more of an explanation, share your own experiences, or try to diffuse their fear with a bit of humor.
It may also help to prepare your child in advance. Give them as much information about what they will be going through as possible, but also let them know not everything always goes as planned.
Regardless of the experience, your child needs you there for support. They need to know it's okay to be afraid, but they also need to have courage, and being courageous means doing something even when it's scary. Encourage your child to take chances, because they are much too young to have regrets.
1. A rock wall. 2. Riding a horse. 3. Meeting the cast of Wicked. 4. The tall slide at the fair.