But wait a minute! When you take a closer look at what courage actually is, you can see that it is an important aspect of each child’s character development.
Being brave in the face of fear and doing what needs to be done even when it is really hard are both examples of courage.
What is courage?
Children need courage when they:
- try new things even if they are scared, like learning to ride a bike or entering a new social situation.
- keep trying to master a new skill even when they are frustrated or other children laugh at their attempts.
- do the ‘right’ thing in difficult situations, like standing up for another child who is being bullied.
- admit to mistakes, like owning up to breaking a neighbor’s window while playing ball and then apologizing and offering to help clean up and pay for the damage.
Having courage helps children to persevere against challenges, and in the process it raises their self-esteem. When children feel good about themselves and see that they have the personal power to make courageous choices, they are more likely to lead personally satisfying and successful lives.
How can parents help children to show courage?
Parents are their children’s first and most important teachers and, as such, have a powerful influence on their development. You can:
- Make sure your children understand what courage is by defining it and pointing it out when you, they or someone else demonstrates it. Use news stories, television programs, movies, or books as learning tools.
- Use everyday situations to point out opportunities for your children to demonstrate courage. Encourage them to:
- stand up to peer pressure,
- refuse to go along with the crowd when the crowd is doing something wrong or dangerous,
- participate in a new class,
- master new skills and persist in the face of frustration.
- Praise your children when they demonstrate courage. Highlight the positive!
- Use mistakes as learning opportunities, not as a reason to punish. Create a positive atmosphere that will encourage them to face and admit their mistakes openly and honestly. Teach them what they can do differently and how they can make amends.
- Be a source of support for your children. All people, and especially children, can better demonstrate courage when they know they are not alone and that someone “has their back.”
- Teach your children that sometimes asking for help takes courage. Let them know that they don’t have to face all difficult situations by themselves and that it can be a sign of strength to ask for help.
Audrey Krisbergh, Certified Parenting Education
For more information about self-esteem, check out the following books. Purchasing from Amazon.com through our website supports the work we do to help parents do the best job they can to raise their children.
If you found this article helpful, click here to make a donation to The Center for Parenting Education. Your support will enable us to continue to provide quality information free of charge.