"Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can't practice any other virtue consistently." -Maya Angelou
If you take a minute to think about it, that quote is so true. There are many virtues (qualities considered morally good or desirable in a person), but that doesn't mean we've accepted them all as values (a person's principles or standards of behavior; one's judgment of what's important in life). But if courage is not one of your values, what will you use to live by your beliefs in the face of adversity? How will you stay true to who you are or want to be (your values) without having the courage to do so when others behave differently?
I should explain that the courage of which I speak (write?) is not necessarily the courage of firemen/women or soldiers. While they certainly display courage, we won't be practicing putting ourselves in dangerous situations at OPS. This program focuses more on what can be called ordinary courage (click link for an article from Behavioral Health Revolution giving examples of ordinary, everyday courage). Ordinary courage challenges us to put ourselves out there, despite the fear of rejection or failure, and get back up again when we fall. In this way, courage is the backbone of grit and resilience. It is the positive response to vulnerability, which is at the core of so many other human emotions. (See this talk by Brene Brown to learn more about vulnerability and its relationship to courage, grit, anxiety, shame, love, belonging, joy, etc. Please note: it contains mild profanity, so is not meant for children.)
Be Brave Bingo! encourages students to do just that. With challenges to choose from like "Raise your hand even if you're not sure of the answer, " "Try a new food," and "Tell your parents something that's been bothering you," the students who choose to participate (this is completely voluntary) will be practicing moving through that moment when we hold our breath and say, "should I?" to the other side where we can fell proud of ourselves for having tried, no matter the outcome. There's even an option for families to get involved with "Volunteer with your family at a local nursing home, soup kitchen, etc." Are you feeling brave? (wink, wink!)
Of course, not everyone sees these challenges as requiring courage. What's scary to one person may be easy for another. For some students, just walking through the front doors in the morning is an act of courage. Others may seem to have all the confidence in the world, but inside they feel alone because they never let anyone see who they "truly" are. Courage differs in this way based on where and when we've been practicing it. It may be that a person has had enough experience in one situation to know what the risks and outcomes are likely to be. In others, however, where s/he has not had as much experience (or maybe the experiences had negative outcomes), s/he will probably need more courage to get started. See how courage can be nurtured and developed? This is why experts advise focusing on our children's effort more than the result; even though our world is results-oriented, as parents, we can nurture courage by praising effort.
Getting back to Maya Angelou's quote, all this practicing of courage is meant to support your child in being who s/he wants to be. While they're at OPS learning reading, writing and arithmetic, they're also learning about themselves, what's important to them, and who/how they want to be. They are figuring out what their values are and how to live them. No matter which values they choose, they will need courage to commit to them, try new things, form friendships, push their limits and live as the best version of themselves.
All blog posts written by Rima Mason, MA, LPC unless otherwise noted.
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