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What Makes A Child Brave?

Your child is a hero. Well, she or he has the potential to be. In fact, we all do. Think about it: A hero is often an ordinary person who performs an extraordinary feat. I’m not talking about flying through the air or leaping a building in a single bound. I mean simply caring enough to shout, stop, help or intervene when necessary. If you are raising your child to be a citizen of the world, someone who will tolerate and understand others, a person who respects herself, her peers and authority, then they could be on their way to hero status. The recent tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, is a prime example of ordinary citizens who displayed heroic action. One young man, 7th grader Dylan Ellis, stands out. He saved his classmate from being sucked up by the tornado by holding her down with his own body weight. “I just thought of her as my family, what would I do if they started to go up?” he humbly explained to a reporter. “Didn't think, just did it.” He went to school as a typical kid and survived the day a hero. Another example is Ingrid Loyau-Kennett, the mom of two who faced down the horrific murderers of an innocent soldier in London. She got off the bus that she was riding on and talked to the assailants as a means of distracting them until the police arrived. “I thought I had better start talking to him before he starts attacking somebody else,” she told reporters. She was an ordinary citizen who put her own life on the line.  She stepped off of her bus a citizen and got back on as a hero. Your child’s heroic opportunities are in her ability to see herself through a social lens that preserves the goodness and safety of others. “Me” takes a backseat to “We.” Heroes don’t ask for permission. They move forward with a willingness to take responsibility for helping. As parents, applauding our children’s independent thinking may be challenging at times. But allow them to notice others and develop confidence in their own decision-making. You might not just tap into the hero in them, but in you, as well. Has your child ever done something you consider heroic? Post a comment and let me know.   Janet Taylor, M.D., M.P.H., is a mother of four, a psychiatrist in New York City and director of guest support for The Jeremy Kyle Show. Follow her on Twitter @drjanet.