Raising Courageous Kids

My girls have recently become obsessed with one of my favorite childhood movies, The Wizard of Oz. When I say obsessed, I really mean it. I can’t tell you how many times within the past few weeks I have been summoned to play the Wicked Witch of the West during their little movie reenactments. I’ll admit, I get pretty into it – “I’ll get you my pretty, and your little dog too!” <insert witchy cackle>. It’s been so fun to watch this movie through their eyes now. I was always such a big fan of Dorothy. I still am, don’t get me wrong, but there is something about that cowardly lion that struck a chord with me while watching this movie now as an adult. He serves as a great reminder that sometimes the courage we don’t think we have is really there all along, deep inside of us, just waiting to be discovered.

I see glimpses of courage in my daughters every day. It’s something I never want them to lose sight of. I want them to understand that being brave doesn’t necessarily mean doing dangerous or drastic things. There are other ways to be courageous.

Courage can mean pushing yourself harder than you ever thought possible in order to achieve things you didn’t know you were capable of, mentally or physically. I just registered for Mudderella, a 5-7 mile muddy obstacle course, because I want to do just this. I decided to challenge myself and I want my daughters to grow up and do the same. I want them to understand that they are stronger than they think.

Courage can mean trying new things and taking risks. It is all too easy to stick with what’s comfortable, but sometimes the best rewards come from venturing out of your comfort zone and taking a chance. I remember how in the beginning of last summer my daughter was so reluctant about participating in swim lessons. She was shy with people she didn’t know and unsure about the water, but she went anyway. However, it wasn’t long after that she made a good friend and became a complete fish who would stay in the water all day if you let her.

Courage can mean standing up for yourself and your rights. I just recently had my first ever parent teacher conference for my daughter. Although she’s doing so well academically, what I think I was most proud of was the fact that her teacher told me that she has no problem sticking up for herself. After making sure she does so with her words (and not physically hurting others – which she doesn’t – phew) her teacher told me

that when another student is saying or doing something that she doesn’t like (i.e. taking something away from her or name-calling) she basically tells them to “knock it off” and that she doesn’t like it. That was such a proud mommy moment for me! I remember having a discussion with her in the beginning of the school year when she told me about certain things other children were doing or saying that bothered her or hurt her feelings. I asked her if she just told them that she didn’t like that and to stop, which she said she hadn’t. Whether she took my words to heart, or just found the courage on her own to stand up for herself, doesn’t matter to me. What matters is that she found her voice and isn’t afraid to use it.

“With courage you will dare to take risks,

have the strength to be compassionate,

and the wisdom to be humble.

Courage is the foundation of integrity.”

– Mark Twain

My courageous little girls. (Photo by C. Corrigan)
My courageous little girls. (Photo by C. Corrigan)

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