Parenting: Building self-esteem by combating fear

August 10, 2010

But experts say it's important for kids to learn that it's okay to be frightened of something and that mom or dad is not far away if and when they choose to combat those fears.

In our family it was the swimming pool diving board. Nicholas enjoys the pool and is starting to become a strong swimmer. But there was a fear of jumping off the diving board into water above his head. All of his siblings and cousins were jumping off, but for my 8 year-old, it was too scary. And I probably did my part to perpetuate that fear by discouraging him from trying it, even though there were plenty of experienced swimmers already in the water.

But at some point my wife and I had to stop being over-protective and allow Nicholas to take the proverbial leap, because we knew he really wanted to. And as I've eventually learned from child psychologists I've talked to, if you teach your child how to combat his fear, you're giving him or her a tool that will be useful throughout life, because their self-esteem heightens when a personal fear diminishes.

And so after constantly being nudged to give the diving board a try, and telling him he could do it... Nicholas decided to try it.

He approached the diving board cautiously and slowly, while various family members cheered him on. And as he stood on the edge of the board, he waited. I thought perhaps he had changed his mind. But he hadn't - he jumped in, making quite a splash.

There were cheers all around... and the biggest smile on his face when he emerged from the water! Now we can't keep him off the diving board.

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