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Teach Your Kids To Be Courageous


Spencer Stone, Aleks Skarlatos, Anthony Sadler, Mark Moogalian, Chris Norman and Damien A. before Friday, 21 August these would been just a bunch of random names but circumstances brought these men together in an heroic act saving many innocent lives.  These men all played a part in subduing gunman Ayoub El-Khazzan on a high speed train from Amsterdam to Paris.

Picture of heroes after receiving the France’s highest award the Legion of Honor medal. Pictured from left to right: Chris Norman, Anthony Sadler, French President François Hollande, Spencer Stone and Alek Skarlatos.

  • Spencer Stone – An off-duty US airman, ran 32 feet to hold gunman Ayoub El-Khazzan in a chokehold, even while he was stabbed with a box cutter.
  • Aleks Skarlatos – A member of Oregon’s National Guard, ran to the gunman with Stone and grabbed the weapons out of his hands.
  • Anthony Sadler – A student and friend of Stone and Skarlatos, jumped into action when the gunman appeared and filmed the aftermath.
  • Mark Moogalian – An American-born professor was shot in the neck when he wrestled the Kalashnikov assault rifle from the gunman.
  • Chris Norman – A British IT consultant and grandfather, said he was convinced he would be shot when he got involved: “I’d rather die being active, trying to get him down”
  • Damien A – A French banker who didn’t want to be named was the first person to tackle the gunman.

I was filled with pride and thankfulness when I heard of the brave actions of these men. It took tremendous courage for them to approach a man armed with a machine gun and box cutter while they were unarmed.

I studied their images in pictures and video to see if I could discern something that would give me a clue why they responded the way they did but I found none – just regular men.  One thing several of the men had in common was having served or currently serving in the military.  The military teaches you to confidently respond in the face of adversity.

Courage is the ability to look difficulty, danger and pain square in the face and do what needs to be done, even though you’re afraid.

Did you ask yourself how you would have responded under the same circumstances? I know I did. I feel you can’t say how you would respond until you’re actually confronted with the situation. With that said I wonder how my son would have responded.

Have I raised him to be courageous?  I know he’s not a bully but I’m not sure whether he would stand up for someone being bullied. What about your son or daughter? Have you raised them in a way you’d know how they would respond? 

Ways To Teach Your Kids To Be Courageous

Set The Example

Your kids are always watching you. They’ll learn courageousness by watching you act courageously.  Let your kids see you stepping out of your comfort zone.  If you’re terrified of spiders, have a fear of flying or scared of thunderstorms confront your anxiety and engage the challenge – catch that spider on the living room wall, get on that plane or get a front row seat during the next thunderstorm. 

Maybe you’re afraid to dance because you think you’ll look like an idiot. Take dance courses with your wife and learn how to really shake ’em down.

When your character is tested in front of your child, show them you have the strength to do the right thing. Be their hero.

Challenge and Praise

As parents, our desire is to protect our children and do whatever we can to remove or reduce their fears. However, we must also constantly challenge our kids to try new things and do things they may be afraid of. Playing a sport, speaking in front of the class or trying a new food are some examples. 
The more a child confronts challenges the more likely they will take on new challenges in the future.  When they step up and do these kind of things, be sure to heap the praise and love. Build on their brave attempts.

Identify Real Life Role Models

The men and women in uniform, firefighters or police can give us lots of examples of courage and valor.  Share these examples with your children. Encourage your children to approach them and thank them for their service.  Share with your kids quotes on bravery and courage from prominent people and have a conversation. 

For example, former football coach Tony Dungy said, “Courage is the ability to do the right thing, all the time, no matter how painful or uncomfortable it might be.”

No Isn’t Enough

Telling our kids to just say “no” oversimplifies what it means to have courage. 

Saying “no” is important but courage is more than what we avoid, it’s also about the actions we pick to get involved in.

Help your kids understand courageous character is defined just as much by acts of commission — choices and actions that are wrong — as it is by the acts of omission: not making choices that are right.

Differentiating When Violence Meets Bravery

When we think about bravery we usually think about some type of physical encounter.

  • Standing up to a bully
  • Coming to someone’s aid facing physical violence.

The passengers of United Flight 93 over Pennsylvania on 9/11 displayed great courage by deciding to rush the hijackers. This act was meeting violence with violence for a just cause.  The passengers died for a noble purpose. However, not all violence committed in the name of bravery is righteous consider the actions of Isis. Teach your child when it’s called for to be physically brave for a righteous cause.   

Society desperately needs brave kids.  Kids that once they become adults will be able to hurdle the boundaries of peer pressure. Kids who can reach out to the child who is sitting by themselves in the lunch room or befriend the child hindered by a handicap. If we are to raise assertive, brave adults we must begin helping our children to develop the virtue of courage.  

About The Author

Gerardo Campbell is a Nebraska native who now calls Silicon Valley, California home. In 1995, Gerardo married his wife Roberta aka the Pretty Lady and became the stepdad to her two children. In 2011, he started the website Support for Stepfathers in an effort to reverse the nearly 70% divorce rate for blended families in the United States. His website is to help and inspire stepfathers, aspiring stepfathers and the women who love them worldwide. You can follow Support for Stepdads on Twitter @support4stepdad and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/resourcesforstepfathers.
Can a janitor be a hero?  Click here to read the story of one janitor.

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