One of the Japanese pilots who participated in the bombing of Pearl Harbor was asked what he remembered from that day. One of his clearest memories revolved around the bravery of a young Marine. As he was laying down machine gun fire on an airfield he saw people scattering for cover. That is except for one lone Marine who stood his ground in the open firing a small pistol back at the aircraft. The Japanese pilot couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Where did that Marine learn how to be brave?
A warrior who faces death on the battlefield and still marches forward; an athlete or musician who is able to perform in front of millions of people; a guy who is able to cross a room to start a conversation with a woman he finds attractive. Where do they find the bravery to do these things? 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 7 ways to teach your children how to be brave.
1. Show Them What Bravery Looks Like
If you want your children to be brave, then you have to be brave.If you want your children to be brave, then you have to be brave. 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. Take dance classes with your wife and prove that notion wrong. When those moments happen when your character is tested in front of your child, show them the strength you possess to do the right thing. We are tested in a vast variety of ways daily. Be their hero.
2. 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 type of things, be sure to give ample praise and love. Build on their courageous attempts.
3. Invoke Culture and Heritage
It is nearly impossible to complete a brave act without a reason for doing so. Our various cultures and 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.
4. Point Out Real Life Role Models
When we think of heroes, we think of soldiers, firefighters or policemen and women. They all can certainly provide many examples of courage and valor. Go even further by giving them brave quotes from people. Such as this quote from John Wayne that states, “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.” Perhaps you have a whiteboard or chalkboard in your home. A weekly quote such as this for all to read is a great way to get developing your mind thinking in the right direction.
5. Encourage Them 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. Encourage them to befriend the child on the outside looking in.
6. Build Confidence and Conviction
Build and nourish confidence within your children. Help them know their core identity is not in their performance, what others say about them, or the sum of their possessions. I believe their identity should be found in the fact that they were crafted with love by the hands of the Creator. When they know that they are free from burdens and walk in confidence. That confidence will feed their courage to be themselves and take relational risks.
7. Role Play
Get creative. Come up with different scenarios involving potential acts of bravery and courage. Doing this will help your child learn the nuances of how to react and give them great experience to draw upon when needed in real life. It also sounds like a whole lot of fun for the entire family.
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and tell them a story of a time when you were scared and powered through anyway.