Parenting Win of the Week: Overcoming Fear

Talking to your kids about their fears doesn't have to be scary

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When surfer Bethany Hamilton lost her arm at age 13 in a shark attack, she didn’t stop surfing. Instead, she used it as fuel to overcome and accomplish so much. She’s a professional surfer who has competed against some of the world’s best, a mom to three boys and an author!

Her latest children’s book, Surfing Past Fear, is perfect for all kids, especially those who are dealing with a situation where they may be afraid. The book has adorable illustrations making it easy to tackle a tough topic with a cute story.

We talked with Bethany about the book, life as a mom and all the other projects she has happening.

There aren’t a lot of books out there about overcoming your fears — how did you write one in a way that kids wouldn’t be scared?

I feel like parenting is so much living by example. When the character Bear comes into the book he first shows Olivia the Otter that he will help. She is first hesitant and scared. He goes out and shows her what to do and then she’s in awe. Bear reminds her that fear is part of life and that our challenges are opportunities to live and learn stronger.

Most kids love to read a book 50 times, so you can really drive home the message. There are great talking points when kids have a fear or doubt in themselves. Difficult things are a part of life where we can learn and get stronger.

There are always challenges and fears and I am honored to help people overcome their fears. Live authentically in that.

At the end too there are a couple of games and I have a message for the families. Parents can bring in talking about me and my story, too.

You have faced adversity in your life, what are your suggestions to help kids overcome fear?

I think first coming alongside them and letting them know it’s ok if they are fearful. Things like, mom or dad has had to work through similar fears as you. So they know they aren’t the only ones.

Taking little steps and be willing to try. Our fears won’t be overcome overnight and just keep chipping away.

When I first got back in the ocean after the accident, I swam close to the beach, with friends and stayed busy. Over time my fears dissipated. Years later I felt like a normal person paddling in and not scared looking in the water.

What’s on tap for you now and in the future?

I recently started a mentorship program for moms and their teenage daughters that is part virtual and part in person in Ohana. My three boys keep me pretty busy and of course, more surfing!

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