Character Raising a Courageous Four-Year-Old

Courage involves making good choices in the face of fear or obstacles. It’s another term for bravery. Remember: Bravery doesn’t mean fearlessness. It means we do not let fear hold us back from exploring new opportunities, developing our skills, and doing what is right. For a four-year-old, courage might look like meeting a new teacher, trying an activity for the first time, or talking about situations that make them feel scared. 

Help your child face new situations with confidence:

Help Them Through Their Fears

Pay attention to signs that your child is afraid or nervous in a situation. Offer both emotional support and information that can help them work through their fear. For example, you might say, "That thunder made you jump. Thunder is the sound that lightning makes. It's loud, but it won't hurt you. Let's listen to it together." As the Daniel Tiger song reminds us, when we are scared, we should "see what it is, you might feel better."

Tackle Fears Through Art

Talking about fears and acting out solutions through role-play can help your child feel less afraid.

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Prepare Them for New Activities

New adventures — from going to a new class to going to the dentist — can cause kids to worry. Talk about what will happen in advance. For example, before a yearly physical, use a toy doctor's kit to explain what will happen and let them give a check-up to a doll or stuffed animal. This helps them approach situations with knowledge and courage. As the Daniel Tiger song says, "When we do something new, let's talk about what we'll do." 

Doctor Daniel

Going to the doctor can be scary for young children. You can help your child prepare for an upcoming checkup by exploring tools a doctor uses such as a stethoscope and an otoscope.

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Let Your Child Borrow Your Confidence

Kids look to parents to see, "Should I be scared here?" Psychologists call this "social referencing." For instance, when children see a dog for the first time, they'll look up to Mom or Dad to assess whether or not the dog is dangerous. If their parent looks relaxed, it's easier for the child to approach the dog. When kids are scared, our instinct might be to help them escape — or to avoid scary situations entirely. But that tells them, "This is too hard for you to handle!" Instead, provide encouragement. Tell your child, "It's hard, but I know you can do it." Show your faith in your child's ability to cope.

Overcoming Fears Through Pretend Play

Together with your child, talk about fears and brainstorm possible solutions to help ease or overcome the fears.

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Build Good Character Skills with Daniel Tiger

Through imagination, creativity and music, Daniel and his friends learn the key skills necessary for school and for life, using strategies grounded in the teachings of Mister Rogers.

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Activity Finder: Learn With Your Four-Year-Old

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