March’s Powerful Word Is Courage

It’s the beginning of a new month, and that means it’s time for a new Powerful Word!

Throughout March 2012, we’ll be working on the concept of “courage.”

All our discussions and activities will aim to help our students understand that courage is not the absence of fear, as many children might think. Rather, courage is how we cope with fears in the face of challenge.

Powerful Words is the name of our character development curriculum here at Urban Martial Arts. It’s designed by one of the nation’s leading childhood development experts, Dr. Robyn Silverman. Every month, we’ll focus on a different Powerful Word, or concept around character development.

Here’s a video from Dr. Robyn Silverman in which she introduces some of the concepts we’ll be covering this month:

Courage is not the absence of fear, as many children might think. Rather, courage is how we cope with fears in the face of challenge. In fact, as parents and mentors, it’s important that we let children know that everyone (even heroes!) gets scared sometimes. It’s how we cope with those fears that dictates our level of courage.

Of course there are reasons why we get scared. Some of those reasons are protective. In other words, we’re scared because fear can keep us safe. Perhaps we had a bad experience in the past and we don’t want a repeat performance. Or, maybe our gut is telling us something isn’t quite right.

Other times fears emerge from our imagination. We worry about what might happen– even if it’s unlikely. These are the times that courage lends a hand. Courage comes in handy in many circumstances. We need courage to try new things and meet new people. We need courage to stand up for our values and what we believe is right. We also need courage to move forward towards realizing our goals. All we need to do is calm ourselves down so we can make good choices!

It turns out that taking healthy risks is an important part of courage. One study published in the Journal of Child and Family Studies a few years ago showed
that those children who are more courageous and who take more healthy risks have lower levels of anxiety (Muris, 2009).

A Cornell University study out in the beginning of this year tells us though that sometimes we have an “illusion of courage” before we are actually faced with the challenge. So it’s not surprising that at the moment of truth, we sometimes back away in fear (January, 2012). At those moments, extra support is often needed.

This month, please share with your children all the ways you have shown courage. Demonstrate to them what courage looks like by trying new things and taking healthy risks. You are their role model!

To give you more ideas for conversation topics, here’s a run-down of what we’ll be discussing over the next 4 weeks:

Week 1 Courage defined: What does courage mean? What are people scared of?
Week 2 Taking healthy risks: How can I try new things & meet new people?
Week 3 Courage & Values: How can I stand up for what I think is right and fair?
Week 4 Keeping Control: How can I calm myself down and make good choices?

We’d love to hear how your conversations go with your child so do share with us!

About Dr. Robyn:
Dr. Robyn Silverman, child development specialist, body image/body bullying expert, sought-after speaker and award-winning writer, is known for her no-nonsense yet positive approach to helping young people and their families thrive. Her ground-breaking research at Tufts University on young women is the foundation for her book, “Good Girls Don’t Get Fat: How Weight Obsession Is Messing Up Our Girls and How We Can Help Them Thrive Despite It.”

Photo Credit: Effortless Vitality on stock.xchng