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Four Powerful Ways to Raise Courageous Children in 2017

After a divisive 2016, connecting and communicating with our young and adult children is more important than ever. We all want to raise courageous, confident children who can wholeheartedly navigate this beautiful and messy life. Here are four powerful ways you can practice courage with your child in 2017:

1.  Develop EMOTIONAL LITERACY first in yourself and then with your child. 

Emotional literacy is a critical component of raising our kids because the more accurately we can name an emotion, the quicker we can move through it and address it.

2.  Use CREATIVE ACTIVITIES to embed the lessons you are teaching your child.

If we want to make meaning, we need to make art. Cook, write, draw, doodle, paint, scrapbook, take pictures, collage, knit, rebuild and engine, sculpt, dance, decorate, act, sing – it doesn’t matter. As long as we are creating, we’re cultivating meaning.


3.  Know the difference between SHAME AND GUILT to help your child develop healthy self-talk.

Shame – I am bad. Guilt – I did something bad.

4.  Teach your child HOW TO TREAT HERSELF OR HIMSELF (and others) by modeling self-compassion.

We can encourage our children to love themselves, but the strongest lesson they see is how we treat ourselves every day. Our work is to model self-kindness.



How are you connecting with your family and children in 2017? Share in the comments below.


These video clips are from The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting: A Wholehearted Revolution

Join us in the course today for more video lessons and engaging exercises. (Use code CWTRIBE for 20% off when you register).

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16 comments

  1. Avatar missing Bethschulman says…
    02/09/2017

    Loving this class! I have two teenage sons and the concept of teaching emotional literacy has given me so much to think about. I'm always looking for ways to model this to my son's~ sometimes we seem to speak a different language. Talking about our emotions and being able to identify emotions in others is critical in raising compassionate resilient kids.
    I'm also a kindergarten teacher and have started to integrate a lot if this into my daily work with 5 and 6 year olds. Thank you Brene- you are my hero and a true inspiration. Have read and loved all your books!

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. Avatar missing tlf993 says…
    02/05/2017

    After listening on Audible to your Parenting Book. I read it for my grandchildren. My immediate concern was our our little 5 year old granddaughter. She was showing us she wasn't able to deal with words and actions she was exposed to at school from peers. The question was how concerned should we be. What are some new tools we could tap into that would actually move her forward. Then you told me about this course. We are all enrolled. Thank you in advance.. SO FOR THE GIRLS after xmas I gifted them with a wooden box. Like a cigar box. Attached to it was a paint brush and black and white printed cards with words and faces. Some words and faces were happy, some sad, some positive, some not so. This was going to be their FEELINGS BOX. I had one too. The idea is they will paint the box or not. The cards were tied on top with the paint brush. The box was empty because their feelings had to be placed into by photos, drawings, cards of their choosing depending on how they were feeling. We would work on the box through the year. We are planning our approach together, as to how the feelings box will work for them. I will outline my plan and have them edit it as it relates to them. My goal as I shared is to have them begin to understand what makes them happy, sad, proud, frightened, shameful, guilty, loved, etc. When they get angry and disrespectful toward one another that needs to be a part of this understanding. Taking it slow but deliberate, I hope to put them in touch with tools for problem solving that comes directly from the vocabulary and course work we are doing here.
    I let them know I had a box because at 71 feelings still matter. This is unknown territory, but my gift to them that I would have loved my mother/grandmother finding time to give to me. Knowing I was always enough and I belonged in spite of what life felt like at the time.
    Thank you Brene, I will be forever grateful for your hard work and years of education and research that we are tapping into and benefitting from. It is what will change the world in time.

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. 03/29/2017

      Wow. This is beautifully thought out and seems like a wonderful gift and idea! Would you mind please posting updates on example of how you are using this and what obstacles you encounter, etc.? I want to understand more about how/when you would do this and perhaps introduce this to my kids. Thank you!

  3. Avatar missing tlf993 says…
    02/05/2017

    After listening on Audible to your Parenting Book. I read it for my grandchildren. My immediate concern was our our little 5 year old granddaughter. She was showing us she wasn't able to deal with words and actions she was exposed to at school from peers. The question was how concerned should we be. What are some new tools we could tap into that would actually move her forward. Then you told me about this course. We are all enrolled. Thank you in advance.. SO FOR THE GIRLS after xmas I gifted them with a wooden box. Like a cigar box. Attached to it was a paint brush and black and white printed cards with words and faces. Some words and faces were happy, some sad, some positive, some not so. This was going to be their FEELINGS BOX. I had one too. The idea is they will paint the box or not. The cards were tied on top with the paint brush. The box was empty because their feelings had to be placed into by photos, drawings, cards of their choosing depending on how they were feeling. We would work on the box through the year. We are planning our approach together, as to how the feelings box will work for them. I will outline my plan and have them edit it as it relates to them. My goal as I shared is to have them begin to understand what makes them happy, sad, proud, frightened, shameful, guilty, loved, etc. When they get angry and disrespectful toward one another that needs to be a part of this understanding. Taking it slow but deliberate, I hope to put them in touch with tools for problem solving that comes directly from the vocabulary and course work we are doing here.
    I let them know I had a box because at 71 feelings still matter. This is unknown territory, but my gift to them that I would have loved my mother/grandmother finding time to give to me. Knowing I was always enough and I belonged in spite of what life felt like at the time.
    Thank you Brene, I will be forever grateful for your hard work and years of education and research that we are tapping into and benefitting from. It is what will change the world in time.

    Reply 0 Replies
  4. D im your mother lizness says…
    01/25/2017

    I love this course! It is packed with so many juicy tidbits that launch deep, wonderful conversations between me and my son. Thank you so much Brené and Courage Works!

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. Avatar missing Emmjean says…
    01/25/2017

    What is amazing me is how much impact I see on my kids when I just invest "a little" extra. There is so much to do each day, just to keep the wheels on our family; it can make a parent feel wiped out and defeated to think, now you need to spend another three hours a day doing art and teaching them emotions. So instead of thinking I have to do it "all," I remind myself just to do "something." At least one investment a day that gives each kid something more than just food, shelter, clean socks, and a chauffeur. A long hug, a game of Uno, an extra trip into their bedroom to remind them that I know they are there and I love them: things that I sometimes must rally to do, because I've already poured out so much for them. But I know that it won't be until their grown that they'll appreciate how much of us it took to give them food, shelter, and clean socks - so right now, today, they need me to do something for them that I didn't "have to." And I see the difference it's made in little ways all the time.

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. 03/29/2017

      This is great! I have been sort of doing that also. When in the past I might be frustrated with my 6-year-old getting frustrated, I now see that I am modeling how to engage with frustration! Hello!? So, now I try to breathe and hold him for a few moments and ask that he try to match his breathing to my breathing. OMG it is so helpful. Thanks!

  6. Avatar missing megsaroni says…
    01/25/2017

    Love this- thank you!

    Reply 0 Replies
  7. Biopic2014 freedomtopursue says…
    01/25/2017

    I have/am raising four strong amazing young people!! I also work with At Risk Families and Youth as a Social Worker. I'm so excited to be a part of the work you are presenting. It's as if every piece of research I've gathered and things I've learned along the way of being a parent is being presented. I can look back after being a mom for 22 years and I realize that the one thing above all else that I have done right (and there are many I did not do right) is I have been kind to myself and have been vulnerable and transparent with my kids. Three of them are out on their own at this point and even though they do stuff that makes me shake my head and or cringe, when they get on the other side of whatever it is, they always seem to come back to home base. If you are a person of faith, Scripture says "Train up your children in the way they should go and when they are old they will not depart from it." But we forget in the mist of that statement is a big time gap. They need to have opportunities to make their faith their own, to risk and fail, and stand back up, to try new/different things. I appreciate your work and heart.

    Reply 0 Replies
  8. Headshot 1 MadamaP says…
    01/24/2017

    It's a tough time to be a kid and a challenging time to be a parent. The outer world is not modeling the type of behavior we hope our children will strive to live into. Bullying is often rewarded and I often shake my head at an increasingly mean-spirited, crude world. These tools and others that focus on emotional intelligence will help move us in the direction of a more balanced world. As a writer of books on civility and ethics for kids, I applaud your contributions. After all, what difference does it make if your chiild has a perfect SAT score if they are an entitled brat? They will be miserable, miss out on many opportunities, and their quality of life will be a shadow of what it could have been.

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. 03/29/2017

      Yes, and what really resonated with me is this idea that what you know or preach is nowhere near as important as what you model. So, with all the angry political discussions, I have been mindful of how I speak about the issues in front of my teenager so that I am modeling the behavior I would want to see in him. As a consequence, not only is he learning how to parse through opinion and fact while being respectful of differing viewpoints (something the entire country could stand to learn), I am finding that I am not being dragged into the fist fights of words in my community and on FB, etc. It has likely helped me more than him at this point! Haha. My new mantra is, "Model the behavior you want to see." It's been incredible and I would not be improving myself in this way were it not for my kids. So, I also have thanked them for bringing me these gifts. So amazing!

  9. Avatar missing Nlars says…
    01/24/2017

    I'm not in the course, but after watching each of the short videos I received in my email today. I love two specific parts! The first one is emotions of knowing at least 30. Because 6 years ago before I went thru a three year recovery group I was right there with just knowing the 3... Now I always dive deep into understanding mine, my wifes, sons, and others. It's so crazy how in the surface most live! Hope we can change it together. The second part I love is the last video about how the biggest lesson our children see is how we treat ourselves. That was so empowering and while I took it to heart I instantly noticed specific family in my life who have children too and see some of the reasons their kids have so much struggle. I'm glad you shared these short clips! I hope to take this course with my wife in the future. Because my life has changed so much going from my addiction/hating myself and going to sobriety, true connection, and having strong self-confidence/ courage. I'm going back to school to become a counselor to specialize in addiction recovery and do group and individual/MFT. Maybe even some stuff you do. These are my long but truthful and thankful thoughts!

    Reply 0 Replies
  10. Avatar missing sbaumgartner94 says…
    01/24/2017

    I was just blogging this week about the struggles our children face and what we all can/should do to shift our overall behaviors to support them rather than leave them reeling. You offer valuable tips here to strengthen from the inside. The self-talk area really spoke to me. I'm a mom and former classroom assistant so I've seen so much of the effects your points have on us all. My username is my twitter handle if you're interested. Thank you for your work!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  11. Avatar missing mbartel says…
    01/24/2017

    This is amazing! Brene, I cannot even begin to tell you how much your work has made an impact on me as a woman, mother and wife. The other day, I was putting away some cereal and dropped the whole container on the floor. Captain Crunch was everywhere! I stopped before one word came out of my mouth. My 4 year old daughter was watching. I'm changing so much and instead of calling myself an idiot I instead laughed and said, "Oh boy. Accidents happen. Wanna help mama pick this up?" A few days later, my daughter spilled her entire glass of water on the counter. She replied, "That's ok. Accidents happen!" Tears filled my eyes. They do learn more through observation vs. what you tell them. She also ate her whole dinner last night and was so proud. I usually ask her how she feels after she does something like that but she beat me to the chase last night! This is changing how I view myself and how I am a parent. Empathy and compassion are keys to healthy, happy living. Thank you so much!

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. 03/29/2017

      This is so great! I also am seeing this and feel like I just discovered the secret to parenting AND happiness with modeling the behavior I want to see. My son asked me how my day was, and when I said it was hard, he said, "It's ok, right momma? You should take a bath to wash off the day and then you will be ready to have a better day tomorrow." It's almost verbatim what I had said to him. I'm trying not to think of all the other ways I used to handle a bad day and how he must have filed those away as well. :( Anyway, just wanted to say I appreciate what you are saying and YAY US! :)

  12. Image shellyroder says…
    01/24/2017

    after reading "A Year of Yes" by Shonda Rhimes, I'm committing to the practice of playing with my kids when they ask me to and to giving them FULL attention during that time (no laundry or device or picking up lint off the carpet while playing allowed). It's true that it really only lasts 15 minutes in general (my kids are 9,6 and 3) and that it is refreshing, connecting and fun. yay for play!

    Reply 0 Replies

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