When you look at every hero and heroine — whether real or fictional — you’ll find a few common denominators among them all. Virtue, skill, and most importantly, courage. Courage is what drives people to challenge limitations and more importantly, to challenge falsehoods and wrongs, to become more than what they were.
Even when you’re not planning on raising a hero, courage is still an essential trait for a child to develop. Not necessarily for the purpose of combating the injustices that plague modern society, but to at least be willing to forgo comforts in order to achieve a certain goal.
Courage Is Like Wine
There are many kinds and many brands of wine, but we all have a general idea of what it is. That and the fact that the more the wine is fermented, the better it gets. The same is true for courage. While it may not mean much for your child at this stage, courage will help your child grow into a respected and very capable adult. This is extremely important given the fact that the world we move in today is fiercely competitive and it can easily crush anyone’s spirit. But, for something so essential, there’s just one problem…
It Cannot Be Taught
Courage cannot be taught in the same manner that a professor teaches arithmetic to students or how a parent teaches good manners to a child. There has to be a challenge and your child needs to be able to overcome that challenge in order to learn courage. The more your child practices courage by overcoming challenges, the more courageous they will learn to be.
Also, although it cannot be taught, it is important for grown ups to model how to be courageous and face challenges themselves.
While you cannot teach someone to be courageous, you can help them build courage. It is the same way that leadership cannot be taught, but rather, it is earned and rewarded through programs such as the Berman & Simmons Youth Leaders Award.
Give Your Children Permission To Make Mistakes
One of the biggest fears that most people have is the fear of failure and rejection. Courage demands security and pride, that no matter how bad things can get, there will always be a support system that’s going to help your child get back up. Be that support system and allow your child to venture out, to try new things and allow them to make mistakes without making them feel like you love them any less.
Growth and Comfort Are Like Coffee and Lime
They just don’t mix. It’s important to teach our children that being uncomfortable isn’t necessarily always bad. There will always be the fear of doing things that they aren’t sure that they can easily do, and that’s completely fine. What matters is that they don’t run away from a challenge.
As we move deeper into the digital era, it would seem that more of our children are becoming less resilient, especially when you consider the political climate that we currently have. It’s so easy to become afraid of being scrutinized and rejected for what we believe in, to the point that we end up suppressing ourselves in order to avoid any backlash. And this is exactly why we need courageous people — to speak truth, even when it’s the unpopular opinion.
Here is a great video with tips to build courage. The tips in this video can easily be adapted to work for children!
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Recommended Books to Help Build Courage in Children
Rachel Wise is a certified school psychologist and licensed behavior specialist with a Master’s Degree in Education. She is also the head author and CEO at educationandbehavior.com, a site for parents, caregivers, educators, counselors, and therapists to find effective, research-based strategies that work for children. Rachel has been working with individuals with academic and behavioral needs for over 20 years and has a passion for making a positive difference in the lives of children and the adults who support them. For Rachel’s top behavioral strategies all in one place, check out her book, Building Confidence and Improving Behavior in Children, a Guide for Parents and Teachers. If you want Rachel to write for your business, offer behavioral or academic consultation, or speak at your facility about research-based strategies that support children, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.