How to Raise Brave Kids in a World of Uncertainty
Author Stacy Ennis, in her TEDxBoise talk, said, “We need to raise brave kids. Why? Because the only way to emerge from world wide fear is by empowering the next generation to be brave.” The surprising thing about Stacy’s talk? She gave it in June of 2017.
While it was nearly three years ago that Stacy highlighted the “world of fear” that we lived in, it’s safe to say that the world you and I are experiencing today is very much a fearful place of uncertainty.
And her words ring truer now than they did back then.
We need to raise brave kids.
We need to raise brave kids. Our current world of uncertainty requires it.
Brave kids are not afraid to befriend anyone—because every person is made in the image of God.
Fear of failure? Nope. Brave kids have learned that you either win or you learn, because they’ve experienced taking action even when they are scared.
And lastly, and probably most importantly as Christians, brave kids are prepared to persevere and stand firm in their faith. So how do we do raise brave kids?
4 Methods to Raise Brave Kids
For me I’ve learned a lot from many child psychologists over the past few years. And, they all have taught me so much. But, there’s also a lot of wisdom I’ve learned from other moms, spiritual mentors, pastors, and from scripture.
Here four methods to doing this well:
- Teach – This is very simple method in that you’re teaching your kids when you tell them what being brave is. So take the time to tell you kid was being brave is. I’ve also put together a helpful list of bravery activities you can do at home, as well as some kids bravery quotes from their favorite kids characters.
- Train – Teaching and training are sometimes described interchangeably. I think the main difference here is that when you are training your kids, you are showing them how to be brave step by step. Your helping them to practice being brave.
- Encourage – Take every opportunity to encourage your kids to try something that normally they’d be afraid to do. Or encourage them by taking special notice of when they did something without prompting. “Hey, I saw that you just did ____! You were so brave!”
- Model – The best gift you can give to your family is to model for them what you are trying to do in raising them. Think of the phrase it’s better caught then taught. Meaning, your kids will value, understand, and repeat your habits! Yes, we need to be really intentional about what we’re teaching simply by the choices and habits we are cultivating in our own lives.
Maybe you’ve wondered, “Are my child’s fears normal?”
And the answer is that there are some normal fears that kids all experience, but as parents we also need to be aware of extremes. Kids Health says in their post normal childhood fears that “Some kids have a harder time, and need more help with fears. If fears are extreme or keep a child from doing normal things, it might be a sign of an anxiety disorder.”
So while we can keep that in mind as well, let’s think through these methods practically, and talk through some more common questions.
How can I help my child be brave?
I think the first thing to mention for how you can help your child be brave is for you to be a student of your child. Study your child—what are her fears, challenges, and hopes. Also, prepare yourself in advance for what developmental stages your child will be going through—so that you can anticipate their emotional, physical, spiritual health. By being prepared in advance, you can be better equipped to raise a child that is brave.
How do you explain courage to a child?
The easiest way to explain courage to a child is to read to them and to show them. Kids connect with story. If you can connect story to their story they are likely to understand what it means to be courageous. You can even use examples you see of other kids doing courageous and brave things to help your kid to know how they can be the same way.
How do you raise a confident child?
Children who have a healthy confidence have a positive view of themselves. They have a positive mindset by being able to be in control of their thoughts and they understand their feelings.
As a parent, you can help kids to be able to verbalize their feelings and help kids who struggle when change is hard. In addition, you can help them to have a healthy self talk.
How do you raise a fearless child?
I know that this might seem simple, but a fearless child is one who is willing to try things. It’s not the absence of fear, but the understanding that you can act despite your fear. The best way to teach them about this is to help your kids have a healthy perspective of failure.
Encourage them to do the hard things in life – give them opportunities to do things that they are scared of, but remember to always be the parent.
Your encouragement helps them to make mistakes that teach a lesson, but don’t crush their spirit. Also, it helps them to see the hard parts of life too.
We can’t just shelter our kids from the things they fear—or even from the things we fear. We need to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16).
I heard a story years ago, that has never left my mind—and it speaks directly to this point.
Brave Kids are Informed Kids
I was sitting in a dessert dinner for the fledgling organization called Women At Risk. The guest speaker was a young woman who grew up in a strong Christian family in the heart of the Midwest. As she entered her teen years, she started to get approached by modeling companies who wanted her to sign modeling contracts.
Her parents were strong Christians, loving, kind, and gentle. They held off allowing her to model, but when she turned 18 a very promising company again approached her with an opportunity. It was something that she really wanted to do and her parents decided to let her do it this time.
She was told that she would have training in New York City and that it was to be very intense. Her parents were told that they wouldn’t be able to contact her for 3 months. They agreed to it.
What they didn’t know, was that when their daughter stepped onto that plane for New York City that she was actually being trafficked to South East Asia. And they willingly let her go. It took nearly 4 years before this young woman was “rescued” from her traffickers.
I will spare you from the details of her physical and emotionally trauma that she shared with us that day. But there is one thing she said that will always stick with me.
She loved her parents, but they sheltered her “from the ditch” because they were afraid of bad things happening to her. They didn’t even want to think about the idea of human trafficking.
So they didn’t talk about it with their daughter.
Her encouragement—don’t shelter your kids from the truth. Tell your kids about the ditch. Teach them about it, but still protect them from it.
Her story was so powerful to me, because as moms we want to protect our kids from harm and yet it’s really easy for us to just keep them from it. But the reality is that we need to teach them about it as well as protect them from it. Conversation needs to happen about the bad things that happen in our world.
We need to raise brave kids.
Now, is it likely that your kid or mine will be trafficked? It’s not probable, but it’s definitely possible.
In a recent ABC News report about missing children in America it says,
“According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, roughly 800,000 children are reported missing each year in the United States — that’s roughly 2,000 per day. Of those, there are 115 child “stranger abduction” cases each year, which means the child was taken by an unknown person.”
We have to be ruthless about being smart with our kids especially in this area—to be prepared and aware. If not for themselves but also for things we recognize that are happening around us.
How can I be a good example for my kids?
For you to be a good example to your kids, you need to do things that you’re scared of too. And let them see you do it. If it doesn’t work out the way that you hope, let them see you work through the disappointment or the hard parts.
I like this quote from Erma Bombeck because let’s face it…we wouldn’t do this as moms, right? It would definitely take courage on our part!
“All of us have moments in out lives that test our courage. Taking children into a house with a white carpet is one of them. ”― Erma Bombeck
If you’re struggling with fear right now, I have written about how you can overcome fear when it won’t go away. It includes a free PDF worksheet as well to help you identify, observe, and resist your fear so that you can persevere.
Brave Kids Have the RIGHT Framework
Being a good example to your kids includes having a strong framework for how you live. I’ve mentioned this a little, but when you have a strong faith and you seek the Lord—your kids are more likely to have that foundation as well. If you are in control of your thoughts and your mind, that too passes on to your children.
When I first became a mom I thought that I would just figure things out as I go—because that’s what everyone told me. And while I had a pretty good handle on things that I thought I wanted and for how I wanted to live my life, overwhelm still got the better of me.
It was only until I started to live intentionally from the RIGHT framework that I really began to experience freedom and empowerment as a mom. I call it the 5 Things Great Moms Get RIGHT.
The RIGHT framework is an acronym for what I’ve named the 5 Things Great Moms Get RIGHT.
R – Relationship with God that is growing daily.
I – In control of my thoughts and my mind.
G – Get inspired for life.
H – Happen to life.
T – Thrive on the phrase, “This too shall pass.”
I’ve put it all together in my PDF 5 Things Great Moms Get RIGHT. Do you have your copy yet?
Don’t underestimate the power that modeling the RIGHT framework will have on your kids. If you live with the RIGHT foundation—your kids will too.
And to help build on that foundation, taking our conversation about bravery into practical application, here are some activities, quotes and everyday ways you can raise brave kids.
6 Bravery Activities You Can Do at Home
- Read books about bravery. Here are some of our favorites brave kids books!
Good, Good, Father by Chris Tomlin and Pat Barrett
It Will be Okay: Trusting God Through Fear and Change (Little Seed & Little Fox) by Lysa TerKeurst
Otis and the Tornado by Loren Long
The Berenstain Bears Moving Day
I Knew You Could!: A Book for All the Stops in Your Life
- Pick out a character that your child enjoys. Talk through how this character is brave.
- Watch family friendly films. Some of our favorite films that promote and talk about bravery are Up, Walle’, Monsters’ Inc., and Finding Nemo.
- Talk about what it means to be brave. Using some of the brave child quotes below, encourage him that being afraid, anxious, or nervous are all good things—to help us to be strong and courageous.
- Make a “Be brave notebook or journal”. Write down fears you’ve talked about or have your son color or draw things that he’s afraid, then reinforce ways that bravery helps us to overcome.
- Brave Kids Have Fun—with a twist! Create a back yard or indoor challenge that includes a fear your child has, like fear of heights or fear of the dark. If you’re child is afraid of heights, have an activity that includes going down the tall slide. If you’re child is afraid of the dark, do a scavenger hunt that includes retrieving something from a dark place in the house—like a closet or the basement. This may seem simple to you, but it’s a big step in helping them be brave.
9 Ways Kids Can Practice Courage Everyday
Don’t miss everyday opportunities for you to encourage your kids in practicing bravery. Here are some ideas:
- Encourage your child to ask an adult for help when they need it.
- Invite them to try a new food.
- Instead of bath time, ask if they’d like to try a shower instead.
- Help your kids to process their emotions especially when change happens.
- Invite them to try riding a bike without training wheels. (If they’re ready!)
- Ask your child to choose the directions you will drive to get back to your house.
- Practice Love and Logic Parenting. Offer your kids a choice. Instead of “Go put your coat on, it’s cold outside” say something like, “Would you like me to help you put your coat on, or would you like to do it yourself?” It helps your child to feel confident and empowered rather than “told” what to do. Love and Logic is what we use, it’s helped me to stop temper tantrum’s before they even start!
- Sing songs together about overcoming fear.
- Read scripture that talks about being strong and courageous.
Brave Child Quotes
Here is a collection of quotes from some well known kids characters to help your kid to understand bravery from a kid’s perspective.
“No job is too big, no pup is too small.” —Ryder, Paw Patrol
“You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.” —Christopher Robin
“If something seems hard to do, try it a little bit at a time.” —Daniel Tiger
“Can we fix it? Yes we can!” —Bob the Builder
Adult Brave Quotes
I’ve also pulled these quotes together—so that you can remind yourself to be brave. Because we all need a little more encouragement!
“Scared is what you’re feeling. Brave is what you’re doing.”― Emma Donoghue, Room
“Without fear there cannot be courage.”― Christopher Paolini
“Being brave is when you have to do something because you know it is right, but at the same time, you are afraid to do it, because it might hurt or whatever. But you do it anyway.”― Meg Cabot, All-American Girl
“We have to be braver than we think we can be, because God is constantly calling us to be more than we are.”― Madeleine L’Engle
“The bravest person I know is afraid of the dark. She sleeps with a night lamp always, but if her friends are threatened? She suddenly thinks she’s a bear twelve feet tall and attacks whoever scared her friends.”― Tamora Pierce, Cold Fire
“When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.”― Billy Graham
“It’s okay to be crazy and scared and brave at the same time!”― Kelly Epperson
Remember the 4 Methods of How to Raise Brave Kids
I know that I’ve shared a lot of information with you today about how to raise brave kids. But, I hope that you’ll take this post as one that you can come back to often to reference. My prayer is that you’ll take to heart specifically these 4 reminders for how you can raise brave kids in the everyday. Brave kids have brave parents—you got this!
And if your looking for more reading that will help you to better raise brave kids, we could also talk more about overcoming fear. Whether it’s you, your kids or someone you know, here are some more posts that I’ve specifically written on that topic.
How to Stop Feeling Anxious [in 5 Minutes or Less]
How to Overcome Fear When it Won’t Go Away + Plus Free Worksheet
How to Overcome Fear When You Face the Unknown