By Lynn Cowell, Crosswalk.com
When you think of those who do brave things, does it seem like bravery, confidence and courage are traits some just seem to be born with?
That is what I thought, mostly because I wasn’t... born brave that is.
I am the responsible, follow-the-rules, structured kind of gal who mostly avoids risks. And that is good. Until it’s not. While these traits are usually positive, these characteristics can actually be rooted in fear. They are the very traits that cause us not to take a leap, of any kind, even when that prompting comes from God.
Fear is powerful and its roots can develop very young and cause us to be stuck way past what is appropriate. In my early teens, I still went to sleep with a light on; afraid I wouldn’t hear or see someone come up the stairs.
All too often, fear gets it fingers in many areas of our lives, holding us back from experiencing God’s very best for our lives.
I’ve discovered becoming brave is a bit like working out. I work out, even though I really don’t like it, because I want the results that come! I want the strength and agility to keep getting out in nature; to go on long hikes and white water raft. Who knows? Maybe I’ll even skydive with one of my kids again one day! (Yes, I’ve come a long way on the bravery scale!)
The same can be true with kids. To become courageous, they need to take steps of bravery, even when it is hard and sometimes when they don’t want to. This movement doesn’t always have to be big. Even small steps can empower a child to move from fear-driven to faith-propelled!
Empowering our children to become brave isn’t necessarily intuitive. We may have grown up hearing “be safe” every time we headed out the door. We have been conditioned to be fear-filled. We’re ourselves are averse to risk.
So how we can help our children become courageous and take the positive steps that help them move forward in life?
There are many ways we can cheer our children toward becoming brave; here are 5 I’ve thought of:
1. Encourage Your Child to Try Something New
Such as a sport, a hobby or a musical instrument. Trying something new requires a step forward, not knowing exactly if the step will turn out as we expect. If we knew we would succeed, it wouldn’t require bravery!
The fun really begins when we try new things together! This past spring, my husband and I snow hiked with our daughter, Madi, donning chain-like gear to our hiking boots. Had we ever done it before? No Where we a little anxious? For sure.
Yet part of the excitement is doing something together that you have never done before! Yes, we were cold and worked very hard moving through the snowy mountain pathway and yet, it is one of my very favorite memories together.
What new thing can your family try together? One year for Christmas, our family decided to attempted to cook something new. We love pasta, so why not make it from scratch? How hard can it be? We could almost taste the savory feast as we began kneading the dough.
But instead of a tasty treat, we ended with a doughy mess! Were we disappointed? Absolutely!
We had spent a lot of time and energy making what we hoped would be an amazing meal. Still, we had spent time together, even if the eating of our experiment wasn’t so great. We did learn something new, which leads us to our next step of bravery:
2. Encourage The to Try Something Again
Especially when it didn’t go right the first time. There are so many people who failed their first or even their fiftieth time trying something new. Walt Disney, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Michael Jordan, J.K. Rowling; the list goes on and on.
In trying again and again, they finally succeeded. We can teach our child: it isn’t failing, it’s learning!
Will there be times when our child, never succeeds, even when they keep trying? For sure! Our daughter Mariah played softball the same as her sister, but honestly, it wasn’t where her gifts lay.
It wasn’t until she tried something new, back to step one, that she found her sweet spot of singing.
3. Help Them Identify Feelings Holding Them Back
If we sense our child is resistant in taking new steps or trying what failed again, we can ask questions to open conversation. Help her discover what feeling is holding her back from moving forward. Our emotions are powerful motivators, both positive and negative.
If we uncover fear of failure or other negative emotions calling the shots in their lives, using God’s word, we can help them change negative thoughts to positive. Our thoughts can make an about face, the very thoughts driving our emotions.
We can help our kids learn early on: my feelings don’t have to control me because I can have the courage to redirect my feelings!
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images
4. Give Your Child Permission to Need Help
As our children are growing older, it’s easy for us to hurry them along to independence. In this rush to grow up, we can send the message that only weak people ask for help. We want our child to know: when we are brave enough to admit we need help, especially help from Jesus, we’ll find the comfort we need to be brave.
I have found one of the best ways to teach this to my children is sharing with them when I need help. Especially in this season we are in of uncertainty, I find my emotions want to take over, directing my mind and then my actions toward worry and sadness. Jesus understands our need for help.
Hebrews 4:15 tells us that He is able to sympathize with us. Asking for help simply means we are exactly what God created us to be: human.
5. Remember Together the Times God Helped Them
And of times they have been brave. One of my favorite things to do is scroll through the pictures on my phone. As I look at each picture, a memory comes to the surface, usually creating a smile.
The same can take place as we scroll through our memories of God’s faithfulness to us. As our relationship with God grows and develops, we will have experiences of praying and receiving answers to our prayers. As we build a history with God, our bravery increases, helping us trust Him again and again.
Taking the time to reflect on these faith-building moments helps us to remind our heart of the times God has been faithful because it easily forgets. As we revisit His faithfulness in our past, it prompts us to be brave and trust Him again.
The very best way I am discovering, to teach my kids to be brave, is to be brave myself, which isn’t all that easy. I’m learning: Being brave isn’t a feeling; it is an action we can take, even while we are quivering!
This is what I want my kids to see … their mom going for it, knowing that even when she is terrified, and although she will mess up sometimes and fail, she is reaching out to the Lord to keep taking one brave step after another!
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Anastasiia Stiahailo
Lynn Cowell’s book, Brave Beauty: Finding the Fearless You, a devotional of 100 mini-chapters, empowers girls ages 8 – 12 to become brave. As part of the Proverbs 31 Ministries writing and speaking teams, Lynn empowers tweens, teens and women to live in the confidence of Christ. Connect with Lynn at www.LynnCowell.com or on social media @LynnCowell.