5 Tips For Building Courage

We all want our kids to grow up feeling good about themselves and feeling like they have a place in this world. We want them to be confident and have the courage to make the right decisions. Courage is the foundation for positive action and builds confidence so that kids feel like they can take good risks when the situation calls for it. Check out these five tips to help your kids build courage.

  1. Acknowledge Strengths: All kids have strengths in different areas but they are also at an age when they may not understand it’s okay to be different. Notice your child’s successes and acknowledge them. You have a real gift for music. You should keep practicing the trumpet. It’s noticing the little things that can make the difference.
  2. Build on Strengths: When your child is too afraid to take action, find a success to build upon. For example, if your six-year-old is afraid to swim across the pool, remind him how well he did swimming across the shallow end. Then find an intermediate step within his comfort range, such as having him swim halfway across the pool to meet you. Smaller steps that build on a previous success build courage within kids.
  3. Praise the Effort, Not Just the Result: Courage doesn’t always imply succeeding. When a child has the courage to try something and then fails, let them know how proud you are of their effort so they aren’t discouraged from trying again.
  4. Show Acceptance For Your Child: If they win or lose, your child needs to know that your love and acceptance for them as your child hasn’t changed. Don’t save your good jobs and I love you for when your child wins. Let them know they have your support across the board.
  5. Stimulate Independence: Protecting our children from harm is a cornerstone of parenting. Ironically, overprotection can be one of the most handicapping things a parent can do to a child. By over parenting, you can rob your child of the courage that comes from struggling through life’s problems and finding solutions for themselves. Teach your child to become independent. Give them more responsibility gradually, while keeping it in line with their age and level of maturity.

These five simple tips can help your child grow up with the courage to make good decisions and with high self-esteem. The more you follow these tips, the better your kids will be equipped to make good decisions for themselves, including saying no to tobacco and drugs. For full courses and information on raising successful kids in today's society check out this page.

Portions excerpted from Getting Through to your Kids by Dr. Michael Popkin, copyright 2002 The Berkley Publishing Group.