Building Courage

Parents can support their child and guide them when building courage to deal with bullying.

What is courage?

Interesting enough, websters dictionary states the definition of courage is "mental or moral strength to face danger without fear" If this were the case we would not get much done... we all have fear...even those of us who are courageous feel fear.

There is a much quoted statement by Nelson Mandela which makes more sense to me:

"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."

Building courage is a strength you nurture in your heart so when you are doing something you know is right you can continue even if you feel afraid.

Sometimes building courage means recognizing danger and being brave by running the other way or by standing up for what you believe to be true. Both actions are courageous. It doesn't mean taking unnecessary risks and putting yourself in dangers way  just to look brave. 

We need to build courage when we are dealing with bullying as it is a difficult situation. 

Courage comes from what we feel in our hearts rather than just letting the fear or our thoughts take over. It comes from knowing ourselves and knowing down deep  we can and should do something. We can get help feeling courage by knowing that others are there to help and we can count on them always. Love can give us courage. It gives us strength and helps us do the right thing without letting our fears stop us.

Building courage is one of the best defences against  being bullied. Many bullies are afraid themselves and when faced with anothers courage they will go and find an easier target.

Courage helps us do great things. It can make it possible to stand up to the bully or change bullying behaviours.

Building courage with the bullied child

Parents can help a child who is being bullied with building courage.

Sometimes having courage is difficult. There are times when we are not sure  we can do something. Bullying can make our child feel alone, isolated and facing what seems to be an impossible situation.

1) We can support our child to do what is right for them in the moment when bullying is occuring. Courage is flexible. A child who is facing a bully twice their size with a crowd of bully followers should not be advised to "fight back" Courage in this instance is about being sure they are safe. The courageous action is to run and call for help. Yes, it is hard and scary but better that than being mobbed

2) Many bullied children are bullied into being quiet. We can encourage our child tell their bullying story by being there for them so they can tell what they know is right even when it is hard or scary.

3) We can encourage our child to try new things. Introducing new activities or opportunities for socializing away from the bully and being their to encourage them even if it is hard and they want to quit.

4) Help them understand about the Bully. Then they will be better able to decide if it is a real threat or   just imagined. Tell them you will always be there to ask for help when they need it. Sometimes it can give them extra courage just knowing they can lean on your for strength and help. 

5) Sometimes a bulllied child will need to take a stand for what they know is right. They need to understand they can let courage fill their heart even if a bully laughs at them or call them names.

Iyanla Vanzant in her book "One Day My Sole Just Opened up stated "fear is an acronym for False Expectations Appearing Real"

Meaning as bad as the bullying may be chances are your child is really afraid of what he is imagining as opposed to the actual bullying. Building courage allows the child to decide what is the wise and courageous thing to do based on reality and then go ahead and do it even if we still feel afraid.

Building Courage with the bully

Parents can help the child who is choosing to bully meet their needs in a more appropriate way. These kids have fears too. It takes courage to make a change and they will need your help and support.

For bullies it means recognizing their mistakes picking themselves up and trying again but in a more appropriate way. It is encouraging them to do what they know is right even if friends don't understand.

1) Your child will have to start with a restorative justice type of approach.  They will have to make amends and do what they know learn is right even when  it is hard or scary. They will have face their mistakes made while bullying with courage, learn from them and keep trying to do better. 

2) The bully will have to build their compassion and some new ways of comunicating and making friends. They may have to face fears about reintegrating with these new skills. Remind them they can be courageous by asking for help when they need it. Sometimes just knowing others are their to provide strength and help is all they need to to what they know is right. 

3) Encourage courageous leadership even when friends don't agree and want the bully to do what they are used to him doing  which is "bully" and be hurtful. Help the bully develop leadership to help 'his crowd' change with him.  

4) Help the bully understand fear is ok. It is not a sign of weakness. When we are afraid let it flow,  feel the fear, Name it, then let it go. Decide what is the wise and courageous thing to do. Go ahead and do it even if they still feel afraid.

What does courage look like?

You will know your child is using his courage... we all have it... When we start noticing these types of actions:

  •  they do what they know is right even when it is new, difficult or scary
  •  they admit mistakes and learn from them
  •  they are open and willing to try new things and stick with them even if it gets difficult
  •  they ask for  you and others for help understanding this is a sign of strength and courage
  •  they find courage in their hearts even if others bully them or try to get them to do something they know is not right
  • they do things they want to do even if they still feel afraid

We all need courage in our day to day activities without courage everyone would only do the easy stuff.  The world would be full of copy cats only  doing what the next guy is doing because of fear... leaving fear in charge. We all face fears, fear of success, fear of heights, fear of spiders, fear of our pasts... People would avoid anything that seemed hard, new or different.

How boring would the world be then??

Parents need to practice living in courage, model for our kids how to face our fears and move forward with courage.

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More Suggested Reading:

Modelling courage by sharing our fears

Other character builders

Action Plan to deal with bullying


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