Instilling Bravery In Our Children: Through self-awareness and values

This is a photo of two important people in my life that show bravery and teach it to others

bravery: brav·er·y /ˈbrāv(ə)rē/ noun: courageous behavior or character.

“My emotions. My intuition. My imagination. My courage. These are the keys to freedom. Those are who we are. Will we be brave enough to unlock ourselves? Will we be brave enough to set ourselves free? Will we finally step out of our cages and say to ourselves, to our people, and to the world: Here I Am.”  ― Glennon Doyle, Untamed

We all take on countless decisions and make infinite choices throughout childhood, adolescents, and on through adulthood. Sometimes those choices come along with taking risks. Whether it’s approaching new people in pursuit of friendships, making the decision to try harder even when experiencing feelings of failure, or making best choices in difficult situations despite what others in the crowd are choosing. Underlying all of these choices is an important guiding principal: Bravery. When we teach our children how to be brave, we are giving them important tools to thrive and navigate their ever-changing, and sometimes tough, life journey.

When I speak about bravery, I turn to Glennon Doyle’s book, Untamed. Here she speaks of bravery in a way that deeply resonates with me - 

“We tell our children that brave means feeling afraid and doing it anyway, but is this the definition we want them to carry as they grow older? That is not the understanding of brave I want my children to have. I do not want my children to become people who abandon themselves to please the crowd.

“Brave does not mean feeling afraid and doing it anyway. Brave means living from the inside out. Brave means, in every uncertain moment, turning inward, feeling for the Knowing, and speaking it out loud. Since the Knowing is specific, personal, and ever changing, so is brave. Whether you are brave or not cannot be judged by people on the outside. Sometimes being brave requires letting the crowd think you’re a coward. Sometimes being brave means letting everyone down but yourself.” – Glennon Doyle ‘Untamed’

I want to reassure you that I am not suggesting that our children, or us adults, abandon our gut and jump head first into situations that scare us. That particular meaning of bravery does not sit well with me as a mother, wife, and educator. However, I am suggesting that we unlock who we truly are, turn inward to reflect, become self-aware, and make best choices for ourselves, not necessarily for the crowd around us.

Isn’t this what you want for your child?

When we teach our children to stand up to peer pressure, refuse to go along with the crowd when something feels wrong, try new activities or classes, stand up to bullying, master something new in the face of frustration, or ask for help in difficult situations – THIS IS BRAVERY!

We are a vital source of support for our children to learn how to demonstrate bravery. We help them learn the important life skills of standing up for their values, knowing who they are and what they believe in. Bravery is a lesson we want to teach our children from the beginning - we are their most important influential teachers. Life will inevitably bring on extremely pleasant and extremely tough circumstances, and everything in between.  How we model and handle the tough times, the uncertainty, and the changes, are vital to what our kids will learn. You can also turn to other resources that display bravery by offering positive role models from history, story books, movies, and television shows. Demonstrate to your child that despite discomfort, tough emotions and circumstances, standing up for your family values is always encouraged.  Praise your child when they are demonstrating this important self-awareness; the bravery of knowing what’s important to them, what’s on the inside, and how they courageously share that with the world around them.

“Self-awareness and self-love matter. Who we are is how we lead.” - Brene Brown, Dare To Lead

As our children, and us, develop greater self-awareness, the better we connect to ourselves – living a life that is in line with our values and beliefs. Self-awareness also enhances our relationships and connections with others. These are the skills we want to pass on to our children.

Self-awareness builds within us; knowing our own emotions, our ability to accurately label and assess our emotions, personal displays of self-confidence, perseverance, and intrinsic motivation. All of these are vital to building self-awareness – a key to building and exuding bravery!

Bravery comes in all shapes and sizes. The biggest parts are being able to turn to your insides, knowing yourself, following your values, being confident in your personal choices, then speaking and acting that way on the outside.

I will leave you with this wonderful food for thought-

“I see your fear, and it’s big. I also see your courage, and it’s bigger. We can do hard things, baby. We are fireproof.” – Glennon Doyle, Untamed

With bravery and gratitude, 

xo Marcelle

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