Developing Courage in Boys

Karen WhitingBy Karen Whiting8 Minutes

Winston Churchill, a famous leader who inspired the free world to win World War II, said, “Courage results when one’s convictions are bigger than one’s fears.” Fear is normal, and with the right encouragement and mindset, boys can overcome fear and do great things. Consider the following steps toward inspiring bravery.

Be in the Know

Courage starts when a boy understands his own abilities and knows God. Faith builds conviction. Practice building skills, which also builds confidence. A sense of humor relaxes a person as does honesty about the situation and relieves stress to lower fear. Add a positive perspective, a willingness to investigate and fail and try again, and you’ve got a great combination to face fears.

For example, a boy may be afraid of spiders or other types of bugs. He knows he is bigger than the bugs. He understands that God made the bugs and can study insects of all types. Discovering facts about bugs can stir a boy’s curiosity and help him know which bugs to avoid and which are harmless. Studying the situation is also the time to check for safety measures to take. The knowledge helps the lad move closer to bugs to investigate more. Noticing funny movements in bugs can add humor and he suddenly forgets his fear.

Develop Courage

Courage is like a muscle. It needs to be exercised. Part of that exercise is building strengths that help a boy feel confident and braver. This includes developing resilience to try again when things go wrong. They do that when learning a sport or riding a bicycle. Building flexibility helps them adapt and accept unexpected problems. These can be as simple as coming up with a different food when there’s no milk for cereal or dinner burns.

Persistence is another quality that helps a boy press on through problems, and can be developed by working jigsaw puzzles, helping with repairs, or solving math problems. Perseverance helps a boy realize that failure and trying again are parts of the process of being brave. A sense of adventure helps boys try new things like a hike in a new area, am amusement park ride, or finishing a scary book. David, in the Old Testament (1 Samuel 17:33-35), spoke about how his courage grew in watching sheep as he defended them from wild animals.

Make Good Choices

Winston Churchill knew men became brave when they made a big choice like going to war to defend freedom. When a boy makes a right choice to play for his team to win, help someone in need, or stand firm for his faith, he has a reason to be courageous.

Guide a boy to make choices by first praying, considering the consequences, especially the benefits, and knowing the reason for making the decision. Stories of boys and men who stood fast with a choice help us see how this works. Read about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, in Daniel 3, who all stood firm in praying to God, and bravely let the king’s men throw them in a furnace as they trusted God who delivered them.

The Power of Encouragement

Cheering for someone and saying words that affirm them fill a boy with courage. When someone believes in them they also believe they can succeed. Listen to boys and encourage them. Help them consider strategies to succeed.

When Daniel shrunk from taking a part in a play, he admitted he felt scared to stand in front of a crowd and speak. Public speaking is one of many people’s greatest fears. His mother praised his clear voice and ability to project. She asked about his biggest fear. He said, “Having people stare at me.” She encouraged him with a suggestion that he hold a prop that would get their attention. He made a fancy shield to hold and even put some of his lines on the backside to read if he forgot some of the words. He spoke with no problem, and liked using props.

Get Through the Tough Times

Difficulties make us stronger although they are not fun to go through. Illness, storms, fires, and other problems can be hard to face. Prayer, hope, and faith help. Being with others helps too.

Michael and his family faced a category four hurricane while his dad was away in the military. They watched weather reports, prepared as well as they could, and chose a safe place to stay together. The news told them to stay home since the storm was not heading their way and the roads would be too full of people who had to evacuate. However, at night the storm turned and headed directly toward them.

His mom read the Bible and they prayed. They slept on and off and trusted God. At last, in the morning when his mom read about Jesus calming the storm and prayed, the storm stopped. They didn’t hear a sound. Michael spoke up and said, “You should have read that one first mom.” They all laughed. Humor helps us relax. That was just the start of being brave to help pick up the heavy fence that fell down, clean up broken glass and roof tiles, and more. They worked as a team and got through it.

Read About Brave Deeds

Reading about someone who showed courage like David defeating Goliath or a town hero also inspires courage. Read a book of stories of bravery, like Devos for Brave Boys by Jesse Florea and Karen Whiting, that shares true stories from the Bible and from contemporary kids.

A family member can record a boy’s brave deeds and accomplishments as stories to read and put in a scrapbook. These are reminders when the boy is discouraged that he can really do great things!

Challenges Increase Courage

A boy’s courage grows each time he acts bravely. Let boys build courage by challenging themselves to be brave and choosing what fears to tackle.

  • Set goals to try new foods and activities.
  • Choose to be kind and stand up for someone being bullied.
  • Identify other fears and investigate that fear. If it’s a fear of snakes go to a nature center to learn about snakes and touch a few reptiles.
  • If it’s a fear of blood, study first aid and learn to apply bandages.
  • Make a chart or album of the brave deeds and fears conquered.

That record will also build confidence and motivate them to be brave in new areas.