The ability to do something in spite of your fear is a character trait that is essential for achieving dreams and living your best life. Courage should be taught and encouraged throughout your child's life. During the turbulent teen years, when peer pressure and distractions are rampant, it is a trait that should be regularly reinforced. Help your teen remain courageous in all aspects of his life by engaging in teen-friendly, courage-building activities.
List Your Fears
Encourage your teen to list what he is afraid to do. It could include anything from trying out for the swim team to standing up to the school bully. Discuss each fear and come up with ways to overcome them. Perhaps he could spend more time practicing before trying out for the swim team. If he has been cowering and avoiding a bully, explain that bullies target those who appear weak. He should ignore the bully, but stick up for himself if the bully targets him. Tell him to stay close to friends that will stick up for each other. If the bully gets physical with your teen or his friends, teach him to stand tall, yell for him to stop and tell an adult as soon as possible.
Help your teen create a courage poster to hang in his room. At the top he could write "Courage is ..." Use magazines to cut out pictures of words such as "bravery," " boldness" and "fearlessness. He can also look for pictures of famous brave people online and paste them to the poster as well. He could include people such as Susan B. Anthony, Jackie Robinson and Cesar Chavez and write quotes related to courage that are attributed to them. Encourage him to look at the poster each morning when he wakes up and remind himself that if those people can do the groundbreaking acts they did, he can surely run for student body president or apply for that hard-to-get-into college.
Face Fears Together
Go with your teen to take on a fear he wants to overcome. Perhaps he has a fear of heights, but really wants to go rappelling next summer with his buddies. Visit a rock climbing center where you can support him as he climbs to the top and comes back down. Visit a ranch to ride horses if he has always had an interest, but has secretly been a little afraid. If he fears scoring badly on his SATs, share ways you dealt with your fear when facing the test, then offer to be his study buddy, helping him to prepare every step of the way.
Practice Courage at Home
Role-play circumstances with your teen in which he might need to act courageous. You and your spouse can engage him in a bully scenario and let him practice ways to deal with it courageously and without violence. If he is nervous about a speech he has to give in class, encourage him to practice in front of the family. If he is applying for a summer job he really wants, pretend to be the interviewer so he can practice his interview skills. He'll feel much more confident and less fearful of the interview if he knows what to expect. You and your spouse should also be role models of courage in your daily actions at home.