How to Encourage Children to be Brave

This guest post is from Becky Goddard-Hill, co-author of Create Your Own Happy – a happiness boosting activity book for 7-12 year olds and their families. All the activities are based on scientific findings that explain why doing them will create happiness.

create your own happy bookWhy should we be brave?

‘You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take’ Wayne Gretzky (Ice Hockey Player)

Oh this is so true isn’t it – if you don’t have a go you have no chance of winning. Not a single chance…but if you do take part who knows what might happen. Fear can sometimes block us though and it can stop us from ever ‘having a go’. This applies to adults and to children.

Often we call brave people ‘fearless’. But courage isn’t fearlessness. As Nelson Mandela said: ‘… the brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers fear.’ Obviously this applies to women, girls, boys and animals too!

Life is full of exciting and wonderful experiences and opportunities but if you are scared to get involved you miss out. Being brave can lead to magical adventures and lots of fun.

We want children to have a growth mind-set and a can-do attitude, so first and foremost we need to model this in our words and in our actions. Then we need to encourage them to practice being brave till it becomes a habit and not so scary after all.

Here is a bravery activity you could try with your kids. Sometimes it helps if you do the activity too so that you can encourage and learn from each other.

A Braveness Boosting Activity

Do you remember a time you were too scared to try something and ended up missing out? Well let’s make sure that doesn’t happen again.

What do you wish you were brave enough to do?

Can you think of:

  • A brave little thing
  • A brave medium-sized thing
  • A brave big thing

Write these goals down inside 3 separate medals. You are going to have a go at winning these.


These are your Courage Goals.

Let’s go for it! Like anything at all……the more you practice being brave the easier it becomes.

Here are a list of things that could help: choose one and then have a go at your first small brave goal.

Which one will you choose first?

Bravery Busters

  • Talking it over with a friend and focus on WHY you want to do it
  • Make a step by step action plan to getting this done
  • Write down how it could go WELL
  • Read about BRAVE, inspirational people like Rosa Parks and Malala
  • List ways in which you have been brave before so you know you can do it again
  • Ask an adult to help you come up with a plan
  • Think of a reward you could give yourself for having a go
  • Look in the mirror, stand up straight and repeat to yourself 10 times I am brave and strong and full of courage and then give yourself a big smile. Do this 2 times a day till you get your brave thing done.

Keep practising and using your bravery busters till being brave is just part of who you are!

Can you win those medals?

Make your fear into a goal and you WILL get it done.

How it works

Neuroscience (brain studies) tells us that courage is not something we are just born with but actually something we can build and make stronger through lots of practice. So, just like learning complicated maths you just have to keep on doing it till it’s easy! Once you begin seeing yourself as a brave person you become much more likely to act that way too.brain model

Create your own happy by

Keep giving yourself bravery challenges like saying hi to the new kid, trying a new food, making a phone call when you are nervous, telling your teacher you need extra help. The more you practice the less scary it will be.

And parents – why don’t you try all the above too, and be an excellent role model.

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