This week I've been putting together a Bravery Box for a little kindergarten client of mine who is really struggling with the transition to school. He hasn't really been able to talk to anybody at school since he started in Pre-K last year. Our goal is to help him talk more freely to the teacher, and to get comfortable with talking to the other kids. The Bravery Box is designed to help him do that, one little step at a time.
Since my client is only five, I decided to do a little teaching about bravery before talking with him about the Bravery Box. I used books on his interest level, and his mom gave a personal example of her own bravery when she was scared. Then we talked about how brave he is, for going to school every day even though it's scary.
So here's how the Bravery Box works. I picked up a little metal gift-card box at the dollar store and cut down colored index cards to fit inside. I also bought a booklet of 350 award stickers for a dollar and cut several of the sheets down to fit inside the box. So it looks fun and colorful, and it's self-contained. (Also, I'm into the whole thing for $3, which is a price I can love.)
I worked with my client and his mom to come up with Acts of Bravery, and we wrote one on each card. We decided he would have three Acts of Bravery to work on at a time. After all the pep-talk about brave fire fighters, brave parents, and brave little self, my client was quite ready to participate in identifying some brave new things he can do at school.
He will receive a sticker on the back of the card whenever he performs an Act of Bravery. Mom decided that when he has six stickers on a card, he's had lots of practice with that Act, and he can move on to another. (This keeps him from picking the easiest thing and doing it forever.) Mom will come up with a small reward for him when each card is full, to keep him motivated along the way.
When a card is full, he and Mom can work together to come up with another Act of Bravery, each progressing toward more interaction with the teacher and the other children. I expect this process might take a while, and I think the Bravery Box is something they can continue together (along with the classroom teacher and the school counselor) for as long as they need to.
My hope is that both the parents and the child will feel empowered to take small steps toward the goal, rather than just feel overwhelmed and at the mercy of something they can't control. Also, I want the child's everyday bravery to be recognized and rewarded, rather than overlooked and minimized just because he hasn't gotten to the big goal yet.