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Teaching Your Kids About Courage

For a long time, I thought courage was only something firefighters and policemen got.  Somehow, something magical happened inside them to make them heroes in the face of danger.  I thought that courage meant the absence of fear.  As an adult, I’ve learned that I was wrong.

It can be tempting to dismiss your child’s fears about things.  Getting “over” something is often the goal, pushing aside or swallowing the feeling so they can move on with life.  Or, parents sometimes feed into the emotions with their own paranoia and don’t give a strong enough example of how to move through life *with* their emotions.

These are extremes, and many people fall somewhere in the middle.  But where does courage fit in?  Do your kids believe courage is something that only heroes or storybook characters have?  They are probably courageous in many situations and don’t know it.  The key lies in how accessible courage really is to everyone.

If you wait around to feel comfortable and fearless to do something you really don’t like, then you’re never going to do it.  Period.  Having courage means taking action while feeling the fear anyway.  Courage itself isn’t so much a feeling, but a decisive state of mind.

My daughter was concerned about some big changes coming soon.  She sadly said, “Mommy, I’m not ready and I don’t like it.”  I told her that she probably wasn’t going to feel ready, ever, when there was something ahead that made her scared.  I said I’d felt that way before, and the feelings never seemed to get better until it was over.   I told her that she was courageous to face something difficult and do it anyway.   That’s courage.

When your child stands up to someone picking on a younger kid or calling someone a name, that’s courage.  When your child is afraid of getting up in front of class to show their project, but they do it anyway, that’s courage.  When your child tries a new sport or after-school activity and they don’t give up after failures, that’s courage.  Do you think your kids know how courageous they are every day?

Teaching Your Kids About Courage

Erika Krull, MS, LMHP

Erika Krull, MS, LMHP is a practicing licensed mental health counselor in Nebraska.

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APA Reference
Krull, E. (2009). Teaching Your Kids About Courage. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 18, 2020, from


Last updated: 15 May 2009
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