What is courage? Is it putting your life at risk to protect others? Is it doing the right thing even when it hurts someone you love? Is it being able to go on after losing a child?
To be brave is to have courage, valor. Those are all certainly words we would love to be associated with our children. However, what is the essence of bravery? What is that certain quality we want to instill in our children that will make them brave when others cower? We will attempt to break that down in these 10 ways:
1. Set the Example. We often talk here about how the eyes of our children are always on us. That most definitely applies here. Our kids’ prime examples of bravery are most likely going to come from you. Allow them to witness you stepping out of your comfort zones. If you are terrified of rollercoasters, face your fear with them and ride that monster at the park. Maybe you are afraid dancing makes you look like an idiot. Dance with them.
2. Invoke Culture and Heritage. It is nearly impossible to complete a brave act without a reason for doing so. Our various cultures and our rich heritage provide the foundation for what we believe. “Son, you are a Thompson and we have a long history of standing on the side of justice.” When we invoke family pride in that manner, we are invoking the heritage of our people and our nation. Teaching children their history and where they come from gives them the base they require to display courage and righteousness.
3. Challenge and Praise. We naturally want to protect our children at all times. However, we also must challenge them constantly to try new things and to do things they might fear. Trying new food, speaking in front of the class, or playing a sport are some examples. When they step up and do these types of things, be sure to give ample praise and love. Build on their courageous attempts.
4. Point Out Real Life Role Models. When we think of heroes, we think of soldiers, fire fighters or police men and women. They all can certainly provide many examples of courage and valor. Go even further by giving them brave quotes from people in all walks of life. Such as this quote from actress Mary Tyler Moore that states, “You can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you.” Perhaps you have a white board or chalkboard in your home. A weekly quote such as this for all to read is a great way to get a developing mind thinking in the right direction.
5. Develop the Courage to Reach Out. Young children are very accepting of almost anyone. Eventually however, as is human nature, cliques will form and social groups will stick in the same patterns. Those that are “different” often wind up left out. Brave kids, the type of people that become adults that we desperately need in society, will step outside of the boundaries of peer pressures. They will reach out to that child who is sitting alone in the lunch room or encourage and befriend the child burdened with a handicap. In the world our children live in daily, this is perhaps the strongest form of bravery. Wouldn’t you be proud if it was your child who was that brave soul who dared to share good will towards everyone they encounter?
6. Building Confidence and Conviction. Proper parenting insists that we build and nourish confidence within our children. While parenting styles may vary, this is a constant truth. Confidence regarding courage stems from deep belief in knowing what is right and what is wrong. From that platform, acts of bravery come forth. “All the strength and force of man comes from his faith in things unseen. He who believes is strong; he who doubts is weak. Strong convictions precede great actions.” – James Freeman Clarke.
7. Differentiating When Violence Meets Bravery. When we consider bravery, most envision some sort of physical encounter—standing up to a bully or coming to the aid of a friend in harm’s way. The trick here is to teach your child the appropriate time to be physically brave. Teach them righteous justice.
8. Role Play. Get creative. Television is mostly mind mush, so instead of sitting in front of it watching something that is teaching your child improper behavior, create your own live action dramas. Come up with different scenarios involving potential acts of bravery and courage.
9. Constant Communication. Courage is basically wisdom, and much can be gained just by talking. There are no stats to prove this, but it could be contended that 99% of all problems could be solved with a little common sense and real and honest communication. Talk to your child constantly and openly. Share with him things that happened to you at his age and how you dealt with them. Encourage him and create an environment where he feels safe to share the important things going on his private life. If your child can openly talk to you about his problems, then you are able to help him come up with real solutions.
10. Spiritual Foundation. Our Creator has given us all the tools we need to be great human beings. Since that is the case, then within every living soul lies a brave heart. Give your child a solid and life-lasting spiritual foundation.