Emma Thompson on Making Kids Brave

Hi zydiiryzys
Readers! Here’s a lovely little rant about raising brave kids by the “Nanny McPhee” (and, oh, Shakespeare) actress, Emma Thompson. It’s from an interview she did with
BabyCenter. The whole interview is here. The rant is HERE:

On why ‘bravery’ is her favorite lesson Nanny McPhee teaches the children:

I think it’s good to be brave because then you’re also slightly more able to cope with failure and failure of course is your best friend in every regard really. Children are brave and they’re more likely to take risks and they’re more likely to learn really important lessons.

That’s really what I mean by being brave, you know. That we take care of our children very carefully and that’s absolutely right, but in certainly my culture children are being so, I think, stifled by sort of health and safety so that they’re not climbing trees anymore, they’re not taking risks, physical risks anymore.

My daughter lives in Scotland as well and she’s already fallen off cliffs and down gullies and so when she picks herself up and she says things like ‘well that’s a lesson learned,’ you know. That’s the only way she’s not going to go near the cliff edge again because she’s actually fallen off a small one. I think it’s the only way you really do learn how to look after yourself because just saying it, saying don’t go to the cliff edge ‘cause you might fall off and hurt yourself doesn’t cut the mustard.  It just doesn’t.

‘Don’t go out with that boy because he will take your heart out of your mouth, fry it up with bacon and eat it’ won’t work because no one is going to listen.  They don’t, you know that, we’re mommies, we know.  So you’ve got to let them get hurt and you gotta let them fail and to do that you have to let them be brave.

18 Responses to Emma Thompson on Making Kids Brave

  1. LauraL August 19, 2010 at 2:14 am #

    Rock on, Emma!!

    here’s the link to the whole interview: http://blogs.babycenter.com/celebrities/emma-thompson-you-gotta-let-them-fail/

  2. EricS August 19, 2010 at 2:25 am #

    Right on! I agree, ALL parents know this. THEY are just too scared to actually put it to practice. Again, helicopter parenting is really more about the securing the feelings of the parent(s), than the actual safety of the children. Which is pretty selfish of them if you ask me. Just because it will make them feel better, they hinder their kids in more ways than one. Whether they realize it or not, that’s just fact.

  3. tommynomad August 19, 2010 at 3:00 am #

    Yup. Helicopter parenting is selfish. And you can’t out-selfish a child, so the battlle lines are drawn and the victor pre-determined.

    Helicopter parents are like doll collectors: they simply do not love their children enough to let them grow up.

  4. Big Daddy August 19, 2010 at 3:12 am #

    Been following your blog for a while and agree with the idea that we are stifling our children by over protecting them. I am guilty of this to an extent. But it is a hard habit to break. I partially blame TV “news” shows like Dateline for fostering this fear by broadcasting stories about the extraordinarily rare cases of heartbreak and tragedy while the vast majority of kids would benefit from a bit more freedom. Thanks for doing what your doing.

  5. Andy August 19, 2010 at 3:35 am #

    Emma sez: “So you’ve got to let them get hurt and you gotta let them fail and to do that you have to let them be brave.”

    This also requires bravery on the part of parents. The first time my daughter climbed up onto the slide in the park — one of those old, ridiculously high ones with the burn-your-butt aluminum surface — I nearly jumped up to grab her down. I’m glad I didn’t, but it cost me. It was a price worth paying.

  6. Leppi August 19, 2010 at 4:05 am #

    I was often told:

    Children will do as YOU DO, not as you say they (the children) should do…..

    they smell hypocrisy from miles away

  7. Larry Harrison August 19, 2010 at 4:06 am #

    It’s nice to see a very “mainstream” person like Emma Thompson who gets it. Most of the public types nowadays seem to be quite proud of their helicopter-parenting ways–and insinuating that we should helicopter, too.

    Dateline NBC and 20/20 types of shows love to dramatize crimes to cater to the scary element of our minds, much like horror movies do, but we shouldn’t live our lives based on their reports–even though the stories are true, they’re extremely rare–anymore than we should stay out of the ocean on account of “Jaws” or avoid buying our kids toy dolls because of “Chucky” from “Child’s Play.”

  8. tommynomad August 19, 2010 at 5:28 am #

    Of course the solution to two of the above posters is easy:
    Kill your TV.

  9. Rebecca O August 19, 2010 at 6:19 am #

    It takes bravery on the part of the parent everyday there are times when us free ranger are a little nervous by are kids antics at the playground. We also can be nervous of the reception we will get from the other parents when we let our toddler slide without someone to catch them, or let our preschooler play in the backyard alone, or let a grade schooler walk to school. But sometimes you have to be brave and once you do it once the next time you won’t have to be quite so brave. You may even find the other parents feel the same way and have been too scared to do it.

    I agree turn off the tv we stopped watching the news, dateline etc. it is much easier to feel the world is safe without the hype.

  10. Scott August 19, 2010 at 6:23 am #

    Very cool. Nice to see someone main stream talking common sense.

  11. Lizz August 19, 2010 at 7:01 am #

    All children from one to thousands of great free flash games games online games

  12. Silver Fang August 19, 2010 at 8:23 am #

    The only way to learn anything is by actually dealing with it head on. Aristotle would be horrified if he saw our modern, namby-pamby culture.

  13. bmj2k August 19, 2010 at 8:55 am #

    I generally ignore celebrity advice, except when it makes sense like this!

  14. Cynthia August 19, 2010 at 10:47 am #

    Anyone else read this with Emma Thompson’s accent? I’m glad she was talking sense, because she has the kind of voice that would make me agree with pretty much anything she said.

  15. Teresa August 19, 2010 at 8:30 pm #

    @Cynthia, I heard her voice in my head as plain as if she was sitting next to me 🙂

    It’s nice to hear someone address the whole teenage romance thing. My kid is just on the edge of that whole boy/girl thing. What an exciting and terrifying time for her and for me! Broken hearts are a necessary part of growing up and I know lots of parents who are refusing to let their teens date to “protect them from entanglements.” I say get the reality check early on, that way you marry not expecting Prince Charming.

  16. Heather August 21, 2010 at 12:49 am #

    You know, it is amazing how much safer the world seems since canceling Cable. I no longer watch daily news or “news shows” and I don’t watch all the “world is scary” drama.

  17. shewolfy728 August 23, 2010 at 11:21 pm #

    When my second son was about 2 (he’s 26 now), I tried and tried to teach him not to walk in front of moving swings at the park – that he would get hit and hurt if he did.

    One day when he was doing just this again, I decided it was time for a lesson. The little one being swung was not large, was strapped in, and was moving very, very slowly. The resulting bump would have been very gentle and not hurt either child, but would have been a good lesson for my son. However, the moment I did not dart in and grab my son, the other child’s mother ripped into me about what a terrible parent I was. I went back to re-directing my son, most embarrassed and little bit miffed.

    A week later, he was at the park with another family, and I was not along to constantly re-direct him. My son walked in front of the swings and got hit very hard in the face by a large metal animal-shaped swing going quickly and ended up with what the doctor said was probably a broken nose. He never walked in front of a swing again, but how much simpler would it have been if he had learned that lesson from a small bump.

    Small lessons are so much easier than big ones.


  1. “Emma Thompson on Making Kids Brave” - September 5, 2010

    […] (among others) the tough Nanny McPhee, the actress has this to say (BabyCenter interview via FreeRangeKids): I think it’s good to be brave because then you’re also slightly more able to cope with […]