Life Skills: Courage to Get Uncomfortable

Teaching character and life skills to students

Courage is all about facing our fears and challenges with determination.  One of the biggest challenges we all face is going outside our comfort zone, trying something new or pushing past what we believe we are able to do.  It is very easy for us, especially adults, to get comfortable with what we are doing, and when faced with the opportunity to try something new – we may be intrigued – but not enough to give it full effort.

I love this quote – “The important thing is this: To be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.” When we challenge ourselves we will find ourselves becoming better, more informed and more accomplished than we can even imagine.  Setting this example for our children and students is part of our responsibility to them.  We certainly do not want to see them going through life practicing mediocrity.


Life Skills: Teaching Courage and Empathy to Children

Teaching character and life skills to students

When we are scared all kinds of things happen to our body and mind.  Our teeth may get clinched, shoulders raised, wobbly voice or a very quiet one.  The look on our face changes and our heart begins to beat in a pattern that we feel it every time.  If we are scared by something startling us it may feel like all the blood is rushing out of our bodies.  Being scared affects everyone a little different, but I am sure you can identify what happens to you.

So when we have a child, what scares them may not seems so scary for us, but this is an opportunity to teach a couple of things.  First recognize the feelings that the child is having and help them to see you empathize with them, without validating that they should be afraid in this situation, unless it is an unsafe situation.  When they see us empathize, later they will be able to use this skill with others.

Then if the situation or the ‘scary thing’ really is safe, we want to reassure them that we are there for them and that that this is safe and it would be OK for them to try.  You may want to demonstrate for them, or be with them as they try.  The child needs to know that you believe it is safe and it is OK to try.  Once they have given it a try, praise them for their courage and explain that with courage we will accomplish things that we may otherwise pass by and miss the experience.


Showing Courage in Our Body Language

Teaching character and life skills to students

When we are scared, all of us have individual reactions. For some it may be that our hands get clinched into a fist, or it is our breathing that changes. It could be visible in our face or voice. Then there will be where we feel it inside our bodies. Is it in your chest, legs, shoulders or do your eyes get closed and you turn away.

What is interesting is that being brave or showing courage has a physiology too. When we are brave we stand tall, shoulders are back, chin is up and eyes are looking straight ahead and our voice is strong. The thoughts going through our head are more clear and not racing.

How do you act when you are scared? How do you feel when you are showing courage and being brave? The simple act of changing our physiology can affect how we are thinking and feeling. Helping our children see that when we let them know that a situation or activity is safe, they can change their physical bodies and feel brave. This will be followed by them being brave and having the courage to do what may have been scary to them.

Life Skills: Courage & the Stories I Tell Myself

Teaching character and life skills to students

This month we have defined courage as the willingness to face fears and challenges with determination.  Now while some may believe that courage is not having any fear, the fact is that those with courage probably are just as scared, nervous or worried as others, they just do not let that get in the way of going after their goals.

Fear is always relative to experience and the stories we tell ourselves.  If I tell myself a big enough story about ferris wheels I may not be willing to try to get on that ride at a carnival.  If I tell myself that speaking to a group of people may result in me embarrassing myself, my fear may prevent me from taking that risk.  But when we look at history many who would not have initially have appeared to be strong, were in fact willing to get past their fears and make stands for what was right and to make decisions that later affected generations of individuals.

Learning how to demonstrate courage, how to calm ourselves down so we can make courageous decisions and act in courageous ways is what we will be talking to our students about this week.

Here is a photo of courage.  This student of Balanced Life Skills does have a fear of heights and was able to conquer the high ropes course during the day of endurance for her black belt test.

Life Skills: Courage – The Definition

Teaching character and life skills to students


Each month we define and discuss a word of character development and life skill with all of our students.

This month the word is Courage and will be defined this way.


Young students: Courage means, “I feel brave.”

Older students: Courage is the willingness to face fears and challenges with determination.

Here are the worksheets for our students:

Courage Worksheet Tiger Tots

Courage Worksheet 5 – 6 Lil’ Dragons

Courage Worksheet 7-12 classes

Courage Worksheet Teens & Adults

If you would like to see how we will talk about COURAGE with our students please follow our discussions here during the month of March or come in and TRY A CLASS.


Self Control: Apologizing

We don’t always get it right.  We do mess up.  We say things we want to take back and do things that are not safe or fair and they do hurt others.  We may make a big mess of things at times.  Benjamin Franklin said, “Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”  Have you found yourself sometimes wishing you didn’t say something or do something due to momentary lack of self control?  Of course – all of us have.

Just recently in a meeting of about 60 people I called out unnecessarily the faults of a group of individuals.  I thought I was doing it in a kind yet reminding sort of way, only to realize as it came out of my mouth that it did not come out the way I wanted it to.  It took me  months to overcome that slip, to regain the confidence of the group.  These things happen, but the question is what can and should we do?

Saying “I am sorry”, is so powerful when done in a sincere manner.  When we say those words we are taking the responsibility for the words or actions that we took.  Whether the act was by accident or a bad choice we must first take the responsibility and then make amends.  To apologize can take a great deal of courage and self control.  It could be that what we said was not wrong it just may have been “the wrong thing at the tempting moment”, and we may be embarrassed by our action.  We may be scared too.  If we are a small child and we know we have done something that hurt someone or that is not in line with our family rules / principles, we may be scared and it will take a lot to admit we are wrong and work on making things better.

I might suggest that how we do this is just as important as doing it.  Whether we are kids or adults, looking the other person/s in the eye and admitting our mistake and then asking how we can make things better takes a great deal of strength – but in the end our ability to do so and to listen to the feelings of others will have a great impact on the relationship of all parties.  Teaching our children how to do this by role playing and by example is key to this aspect of self control.