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Redefining Courage for our Young Teens

Written by Bethany Todd, in Collaboration with Laura Barr

Brene Brown teaches everyone about courage by redefining it as something more than “heroic”. She defines courage as being honest and open to being yourself, to ask when you need something, and allowing oneself to be vulnerable. As I learn about this kind of “ordinary” courage, my brain keeps thinking about  the need to teach this type of courage to our young teens.


Young Teens Should Know that It Takes Courage to…

  1. Be yourself
  2. Ask for help
  3. Be honest
  4. Accept a challenge
  5. Be vulnerable
  6. Say “NO”

One of the biggest ways in which middle schoolers need courage is in relationships, with their peers, siblings and parents. In a Psychology Today article, Tina Gilbertson sheds some light on this topic; she calls it “relational courage”.  Gilbertson states that it takes “grit” to be a real friend and have deep relationships. Friendships are the most important thing to young teens as they enter adolescence and begin to respond to peer pressure.

Gilbertson suggests that in order to deepen and “show up” in our relationships, we need to courageously do the following 5 things:

  • Start tough conversations
  • Set goals and work toward them, even when failure is possible or even likely
  • Apologize when necessary
  • Tell the person who hurt you that they hurt you, and what you want them to do about it
  • Say No to people

What fabulous tools to teach our teens!


Quotes to Think about and Discuss with your Middle School Child

Dr. Melanie Greenberg, shares quotes about courage in a Psychology Today article. Consider putting them up in the house or asking your child to think about what they mean to her. Have a family meeting or lively family dinner conversation in which you discuss one of these quotes:

  • Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the   day that says I’ll try again tomorrow. — Mary Anne Radmacher
  • When we are afraid we ought not to occupy ourselves with endeavoring to prove that there is no danger, but in strengthening ourselves to go on in spite of the danger. — Mark Rutherford
  • Courage is about doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared. Have the courage to act instead of react.” — Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • 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 — Nelson Mandela
  • To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself.
 — Soren Kierkegaard


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