Fearless parenting with Mindy McKnight

Through her upcoming book Viral Parenting, YouTube star Mindy McKnight navigates the sometimes scary online world for parents and children, including six of her own. One is 16-year-old daughter Kamri Noel, who has her own social following and hosts Nat Geo Kids’ video series How Things Work. Read on for McKnight's tips on raising fearless kids.

 

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Mindy McKnight

FEARLESS QUOTE (Mindy): “Demonstrating that we as parents aren’t afraid of failure is the best way we can teach our kids not to fear failure.”
FEARLESS QUOTE (Kamri): “Fear is often just a hesitation of taking risks. If kids are able to overcome this, they’ll make the most of every opportunity.”

NAT GEO FAMILY: Why is it good for kids to be fearless?

MINDY: Kids who are confident in themselves and their abilities are more likely to succeed. It’s great for kids to try new things, step out of their comfort zone, meet new people, etc. As they grow older, their ability to think strategically and adapt in their situations will develop as well. Every child should know that they can accomplish anything if they’re willing to try hard and put in the work.

KAMRI: Kids need to be fearless so they’re able to face their problems head on. Fear is often just a hesitation of taking risks. If kids are able to overcome this, they’ll make the most of every opportunity.

NAT GEO FAMILY: Describe yourself as a fearless kid.

MINDY: My husband, Shaun McKnight, was a very shy kid. His biggest fear was standing out, especially speaking publicly. Whenever he was called on in class, his face would turn red and his ears would burn. But he figured out how to overcome this fear when he was about 10: He started doing impressions of teachers, cartoon characters, or celebrities—and people would compliment him on his ability. Soon he was doing impersonations in front of more and more people. Since then, he’s spoken in front of audiences as large as 2,000 people … and he owes it all to Kermit the Frog—at least his impersonation of him!

Kamri Noel

KAMRI: Last year as a freshman, I decided I wanted to graduate high school a year early. My parents always taught me to take risks when I was ready for them, and they allowed me to make this decision on my own. A year later I’m so glad I was fearless toward this decision. Now as a sophomore, I’m taking advanced classes that challenge me more and will graduate in the spring of 2020.

NAT GEO FAMILY: What advice would you give parents to raise a fearless kid?

MINDY: We need to lead by example. I believe that fear of failure is what prevents most people from experiencing success. Demonstrating that we as parents aren’t afraid of failure is the best way we can teach our kids not to fear failure, and to become independent thinkers, calculated risk-takers, and amazing future leaders for a world that needs them. Let’s encourage our children, praise their efforts, and teach them to accept their failures while celebrating every success. Then watch what happens.

KAMRI: Encouraging your kids—even in their failures—will help them learn that even if their original plan doesn’t work out, they can overcome obstacles. Showing your children that it’s OK to fail will allow your children to be less afraid when facing real-life problems without their parents by their side.