I have never been particularly “brave”. To be completely honest, I would probably be considered “fearful”. I see this same characteristic in my firstborn, Caleb, and made a goal to seek out courage for kids and how I can help him be a little less fearful!
Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to change his personality. His inbred cautious spirit will hopefully keep him from physical harm as well as sinful temptations. However, I don’t want him to miss out on opportunities because he is afraid to try something new.
The Importance of Teaching Kids Courage and Bravery
We all face periods of uncertainty in life. Far too often we find ourselves face to face with fears as well as situations that make us uncomfortable. Whether you are afraid to take a risk or there is a very real threat in your life, we need to teach our children how to handle these obstacles.
I believe this is an ongoing process which life will teach as your child matures. That being said, how do you make these lessons easier for your child? I don’t want my son full of anxiety and fear as I’m encouraging him to try new things.
What is a Good Courage Definition for Kids?
Before going any further, let’s give a good courage definition for kids.
This is the direct quote from google:
- the ability to do something that frightens one.”she called on all her courage to face the ordeal”
- strength in the face of pain or grief.”he fought his illness with great courage”
Mirriam Webster defines it “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty”
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How Do You Teach Kids About Courage?
Now that we have a courage definition for kids, how do you teach your kids about courage? I tell mine that courage is being afraid of something and doing it anyway. This can apply to all aspects of life from holding a snake to telling the truth to standing up for yourself.
I want to pause here and point out that our kids are watching us. How we react to fearful situations goes a long way in how we instill courage in our child. If we shrink back and refuse to face our fears, they will learn to react the same way.
There is no need to put on false bravery, be honest with your child. When they see you succeed they will not only rejoice with you but will want that same success themselves!
I have found help in these five areas:
- Bible stories about courage
- Short verses to encourage (free bookmark verses at the end to keep God’s word close!)
- Kids’ books about courage
- Being brave activities
- Courage games for kids (and me!)
Bible Stories about Courage
Why start with Bible stories about courage?
The most important truth we can teach our kids when encouraging them to be brave is that God is always with them. Let’s give them proof with Bible stories about courage.
Do you know the story of the Biblical Caleb? I have repeatedly used the story to encourage my own Caleb to be brave (which is actually the meaning of his name!). It is found in Numbers 13 and 14.
After God delivers the Children of Israel from bondage in Egypt and brings them to the promised land, he instructs Moses to send spies into the land. So Moses chooses 12 spies; they go into the land and are amazed at what they see.
It truly is a land flowing with milk and honey, but it is also inhabited by strong people with walled cities.
When they give their reports to Moses, Caleb speaks up immediately that they should go in and take possession of the land, but 10 of the men are far too fearful and try to persuade the people that it is too dangerous.
Joshua and Caleb try to convince the people. “The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. 8 If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, ‘a land which flows with milk and honey.’ 9 Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them.” (Numbers 14:7-9)
Caleb was brave because he knew that the Lord was with them.
The scene ends when the people try to stone Caleb and Joshua, God intervenes and punishes them for their unbelief. They will now wander the wilderness for 40 years before the well-known story of Joshua and the Battle of Jericho.
However, this isn’t the end of the story for Caleb. We see him again in Joshua 14 where he reminds Joshua that he had stood with him and for God 45 years ago.
“And Joshua blessed him, and gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh as an inheritance. Hebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite to this day, because he wholly followed the Lord God of Israel.” (Joshua 14:13-14)
Here are a few more examples of Bible stories about courage to help you get started:
- David and Goliath
- David runs from Saul
- Daniel in the lions’ den
- the three Hebrew men (Daniel 3)
- Joshua and the battle of Jericho
- Moses facing Pharoah
Short Verses to Encourage Courage in Kids
It is always helpful to have verses running through your head in times of need. These are perfect for memorizing or writing on little notes. Hang these courage verses for kids on the bathroom mirror or the fridge door as a daily reminder.
“Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in you.” (Psalm 56:3)
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)
“The Lord is on my side” (Psalm 118:6)
“Behold God is my helper” (Psalm 54:4)
Examples of Courage in Kids’ Books
Reading kids’ books about courage might inspire your child as well. We use Christian Light Education for our homeschool reading program and they have the most wonderful character-building short stories, many of which center around courage.
These might be a good fit for your family as well.
For older kids, inspiring stories of missionaries and important men and women in history can encourage them to be brave. I enjoyed the “Men and Women of Faith Series” and “Christian Heros Then and Now Series” when I was young. My kids have started reading these as well.
|Christian Heroes: Then & Now–Rowland Bingham, Into Africa’s Interior|
|Samuel Morris, Men and Women of Faith Series|
For more ideas for picture books about courage, check out 30 Inspiring Picture Books about Fear and Courage by What Do We Do All Day
True bravery is being afraid and doing it anyway. Many kids think that being brave means that you are not afraid of anything. This isn’t true. It takes a lot of courage to face those fears!
Here are a few being brave activities to help your child face their fears.
- Remind them what true bravery is.
- Encourage them to try new things, have adventures, and face their fears. This can be done in baby steps and at their own pace, but encourage them forward.
- Role play- many times we are afraid because we don’t know what to expect. Pretend play various situations and directions they might take. Be both serious and goofy.
- Be an example. Try something new yourself. Show your child that we all have fears and anxieties and that is completely normal. However, we don’t want to keep ourselves from good experiences because we are afraid.
- Remind them that’s ok to do it wrong. It’s also ok to “fail”. Often we are too afraid to try out for a team or role in a play because we are afraid we will not get accepted. Failing and rejection are all part of the learning process. We have to take chances and learn from both the good and bad that results from them.
- Preschool Activities for Teaching Bravery by Classroom has some fun ideas for our little people.
For more devotions for kids, be sure to check out my new series! Hands-on Devotions for kids. Helping our youth learn God’s word and important character-building lessons in a hands-on way! I am so excited about this series!
Courage Games for Kids
What about games to build courage? Kids of Integrity by Focus on the Family has some wonderful courage games! Here are a couple of my favorites, but check out the site. Don’t underestimate the effectiveness of these courage activities.
God is my flashlight
A very common fear among children and adults is fear of the dark. Being careful in the dark is wise, as a person can trip or bump into hidden obstacles. However, being cautious in the dark is different from being fearful of darkness. When a person is afraid of the dark, they are usually letting their imagination get carried away. If a person continues to dwell on those thoughts, the fear only gets worse.
Offering an alternative focus can help your children overcome their fear of the dark. One helpful alternative is the three-part “fear stopper” handshake.
- Begin by having your child hold your hand as you would hold hands if you were walking side by side.
- As you swing hands, have your child say, “God is with me.”
- Then face each other and hold your hands up to your eyes, pretending your hands are binoculars you are looking through. Look at each other and say, “God knows what hides in darkness!”
- Finish by saying “God will protect me!” as you make a fist with one hand and gently “pound it” by punching your fist against the other person’s fist, “hammer-style.”
Snuff Out Fear
Discussion point: Fear is like fire – it can easily get out of control; we can ask God to calm our fear.
Light a candle and talk about how scary fires can be. Have your children put their hands close enough to the flame to feel the heat. Remind your children to be careful around fire.
Explain that when fire gets too much fuel, it can get out of control. Fear is like fire; if we feed it, it can get out of control too. The good news is that God is stronger than fire and He is also stronger than fear.
Take a candle snuff or paper cup and put the candle out. As you demonstrate how a candle snuff puts the fire out, explain that God is more powerful than any fire. Even when our fear is out of control, God can put a stop to it if we ask Him.
Fostering Courage in Kids
I hope you come away from this post with some great ideas! Teaching courage to our kids is important in helping them grow and mature. Life is scary, isn’t it?! Let’s join forces and help our kids understand what it means to be brave.
Do you have any tips for teaching bravery to kids? I’d love for you to share them in the comments below!
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