One of the most important life lessons in helping our children is encouraging them to take risks. Fear of getting rejected starts at a young age. For many, it begins in the classroom, where raising their hands in class can be a debilitating experience, for fear of not knowing the answer to a teacher’s question. Fear of speaking up because they may not say the right thing, or fear of not speaking up because it can cause stress on the potential outcome are valid feelings. Teaching our children from a young age that it’s okay to ask for what you want regardless of the outcome (getting a “no”) is one vital lesson and can be instrumental as they learn how to value themselves. Confronting that fear and learning how to deal with possible rejection also teaches them how to handle other situations in life.
In terms of relationships and friendships, teaching our kids how to express themselves if they’ve been hurt by a friend can be extremely empowering. They may think that it’s pointless to say something to a friend, or not want to deal with it. If they think their teammate called a wrong play and won’t tell them, the cycle of fear will ultimately take over in other relationships. In essence, the fear can dictate their future. When they’re in a job and realize they deserve a raise, it becomes important to voice their reasons why they should get paid more.
I tell my own children to think about how many opportunities they’ll miss out on in life if they don’t ask, if they don’t voice their opinions and feelings, if they don’t raise their hand in class, if they don’t hear the word “no”, how will they ever learn to value what they have to say to others? Self-worth is certainly not determined by the amount of “no’s” we hear but that leap of faith in asking for what we want or deserve, expressing our feelings and opinions can be the catalyst for positive change. Ask your children, “What would you do if you had no fear?”