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Key Takeaways:

  • Courage involves confronting challenges and persevering amidst adversity, even when it’s scary to do so.
  • Teaching children to be courageous is important because it makes them more confident, independent, and motivated.
  • Some courage-boosting activities for kids include reading books about brave characters, trying new things, engaging in positive self-talk, and talking about what it means to be brave.

In a world that constantly presents new challenges and uncertainties, embracing courage has never been more crucial, especially for the younger generation. Introducing courage activities to their daily routines instills a sense of inner strength, confidence, and a willingness to navigate new experiences. Here are 15 fun and exciting ways to start helping your child build their courage.

Definition of Courage for Kids

Courage is a multifaceted trait that extends beyond the absence of fear, encompassing the ability to confront challenges, persevere amidst adversity, and stand up for one's beliefs. In the context of children, courage is an essential component of their emotional and psychological development, influencing their resilience, self-esteem, and overall well-being.

Children develop courage through positive role modeling, encouragement and support, risk-taking and exploration, and emotional regulation.

The Importance of Fostering Courage in Kids

Courage in children holds significant importance for their overall well-being, growth, and future success. A courageous child is more likely to be resilient when facing challenges, quickly learning to bounce back from setbacks.

Courage is also closely linked to self-confidence [*]. Courageous children develop a sense of competence and self-worth, contributing to higher self-esteem and a positive self-image.

As children age, they’ll need the courage to take initiative and make independent choices. They gain a sense of autonomy, responsibility, and the ability to make informed decisions. The more they see challenges as opportunities for learning, the more they embrace a growth mindset.

15 Courage-Boosting Activities for Kids

Being brave isn’t easy. From a child’s perspective, a lot can be scary! Try these courage-boosting activities to help your child conquer their everyday fears.

1. Show Your Child What Bravery Looks Like

Children often learn by example, so witnessing courageous behavior from parents, teachers, and other influential figures can significantly impact their willingness to face challenges. Modeling courage through actions and healthily expressing emotions sets a powerful precedent.

2. Try New Things Together

Teach your children to get out of their comfort zone by getting out of your comfort zone. If you’ve been attempting to conquer that roller coaster at the local fair for months, take your child on the ride, too! If your child’s been dead set on overcoming their fear of a creepy cartoon, watch it with them!

3. Encourage Positive Self-Talk

When a child says, “I can’t do this,” or “I’m not good enough,” you’ll be surprised how quickly they believe these statements. Counter negative thoughts by encouraging children to create and recite positive affirmations for self-esteem. These affirmations can focus on their strengths, capabilities, and the courage to face challenges.

4. Embrace Fear

Even the bravest people have fears! By identifying your child’s fears, you can work toward accepting and conquering them. Always create open and non-judgmental spaces for children to express their feelings, validating their emotions and guiding them in viewing fear as a natural part of life.

5. Build a Courage Collage

Have children create a collage using images and words that symbolize courage—they might think about their favorite fictional character, a classroom quote, a book, or someone they know. Discuss each element and how it relates to facing challenges. This visual representation serves as a reminder of their ability to be brave.

6. Discover Brave Role Models

Notable figures in history you can share to instill a sense of courage include Rosa Parks, the Mother of the Civil Rights Movement who played a significant role in dismantling racism, Mahatma Gandhi, who led India to independence through nonviolent civil disobedience, and Anne Frank, who displayed immense courage when hiding from the Nazis.

Encourage your child to discover new role models every week through supervised internet searches or at the school library.

7. Read Books on Courage

So many children’s books touch upon various aspects of growing up, including learning to be brave. “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak is a classic tale of courage that depicts the story of Max, a young boy who faces the unknown and learns the importance of love and acceptance.

Another classic favorite is “Brave Irene” by William Steig, a story of a young girl who faces a snowstorm to deliver a dress for her mother.

These books not only entertain but also provide valuable lessons on courage, resilience, and the power of positive actions for young readers.

8. Play Fear-Conquering Bingo

Bingo isn’t just for old folks’ homes! You can create a bingo card with different fear-facing challenges, such as making a new friend at school, trying a new dish at your family’s favorite restaurant, or learning a difficult song on the piano. Mark each challenge on your child’s custom bingo card, celebrating when you complete the entire sheet.

9. Cook Adventurous Foods

Children are notorious for having repetitive food favorites. Challenge their taste buds by trying new ingredients or recipes for lunch or dinner. Let your child take the lead, fostering a positive attitude toward new experiences.

10. Keep a Challenge Journal

Scientifically, journaling improves emotional well-being by facilitating self-reflection and emotional expression, as evidenced by studies showing reduced stress levels and enhanced mood among regular journal writers [*].

Keeping a challenge journal will encourage kids to reflect on their feelings when they experience something difficult and note what they learned and how they handled it.

11. Create a Superhero

Every kid wants to be a superhero—why not brainstorm what kind of superhero they would be? Consider what characteristics your child’s superhero would have. Are they physically strong? Are they unafraid of fire? Do they protect little children? Maybe animals? Let your child’s imagination run wild.

12. Give Kids a Chance to Speak Publicly

Public speaking can feel like a nightmare, even for grown-ups. But learning to conquer this fear early can give children the boost of confidence they need to succeed in the future. Provide opportunities for children to speak in front of a group, whether it's sharing a short story, presenting a project, or participating in a show-and-tell session.

13. Explore a New Place

Whether it be a new playground, a new restaurant, or to the beach or mountains where your child has never been, exploring a new place is an excellent way to get your child outside of their comfort zone. Approach every new element with excitement and wonder, encouraging your child to ask questions about the things they discover.

14. Think About What’s “Too Hard”

Trying to perfect something you haven’t mastered is frustrating for anyone, but it isn’t impossible. Ask your child to make a list of things they want to achieve that feel “too hard.” For instance, they might list becoming part of the school soccer team or learning a new language. Then, list the steps they can take to achieve this goal, listing potential milestones and little victories.

15. Courage Storytelling Circle

Form a storytelling circle where each child takes turns sharing a personal experience that required courage. This activity promotes open communication and creates a supportive environment for sharing and learning from each other. Hearing from others might also reinforce that courage doesn’t always involve grand gestures—you can find it in daily wins.

The Bottom Line

Growing up is scary, but it doesn’t always have to be! By introducing the activities to boost courage in kids that we listed above, your child can learn to face challenges head-on and become more gracious learners.

Teach your child what it means to be well-rounded by supplementing these courage activities with our character education posters.

Sources:

  1. Fiat A, et al. “Mentoring to Promote Courage and Confidence Among Elementary School Students With Internalizing Problems: A Single-Case Design Pilot Study.” Journal of Applied School Psychology, 2017.
  2. Smyth JM, Johnson JA, Auer BJ, Lehman E, Talamo G, Sciamanna CN. “Online Positive Affect Journaling in the Improvement of Mental Distress and Well-Being in General Medical Patients With Elevated Anxiety Symptoms: A Preliminary Randomized Controlled Trial.” JMIR Mental Health, 2018.

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