Growing Relationships
Through Parenting & Education
Helping Our Children Develop Boldness
by Connie Albers
Agoal of most parents is to teach their children how to be bold. We imagine them standing up for the truth, not letting fear stop them from taking action, and protecting their siblings or friends from bullies. I, too, wanted that for my children. That’s a worthy goal to desire for our children, but the question begs, “How?” How do we help our children develop this kind of boldness?

First, we must understand some of the characteristics our children must learn if we want them to live boldly. In general, people who are bold are typically unafraid, have discernment, and exhibit confidence. While these are common traits, the degree to which a child manifests each one will vary. The way we accomplish developing boldness will vary from one child to another, but it is necessary to instill each of these character qualities in them throughout their childhood.

If you have more than one child, you know they are all different. They might be from the same family, but that is about all they have in common. For example, you have one risk taker who is willing to take on the world and another who is afraid to speak to anyone. What I have learned, having worked with children for decades, is their personalities and temperaments are not a determiner of their abilities to be bold or not. However, it is an indicator that you will need to teach them differently for them to gain the confidence they need when they enter adulthood.

So how? How do we develop boldness in our children? While the list is extensive, we will focus on three areas that are foundational.

Model Boldness
When parents ask me what we did to develop boldness in our children, my first response is we started with Scripture. It is important for children to study how men and women in the Bible lived with boldness. After reading about various people like Ruth or Daniel or Paul, talk about what they did and how their action or inaction impacted others. We were intentional to point out that their source of boldness did not come from their own strength. Help them understand being bold for the sake of boldness is not the goal. At least not the kind of boldness that impacts the world.

The simplest way to define boldness is the willingness to take risks and act with courage and confidence. In addition to studying how others showed boldness, it is also important to remember they are watching you. Yes, you are their case study, for lack of a better term.

A parent’s ability to model boldness is linked to how children learn. Are we living boldly or afraid? Do we stand up for what is right, or do we sit in silence? Do they see us wrestle with knowing what to do and when to take action? Children learn by observation, and because you are the primary influence in your children’s lives, you get to show them how to be bold. Perhaps you have heard the phrase, more is caught than taught. It is also true of learning how to be bold. We can teach them how, but watching it lived out provides real-life lessons they can’t ignore.

When my kids were teens, they used to get so embarrassed if I spoke up. They would roll their eyes, act like they did not know me, and tell me not to say anything. At the time I did not appreciate what they were doing, but now I get to watch them live out being bold in their lives. I often hear them say or do the same things I did. Sometimes I say something, but most of the time I do not. Boldness can take years for them to develop, so be patient as they figure it out.

Family holding hands walking on a trail
Remember They are a Work in Progress
Developing boldness is a process. To be bold requires decisiveness. Some children are naturally bold. They do not need time to decide. They know what needs to be done and then do it. They are not afraid of what others think or say about them. Failure is not an option. Mistakes are opportunities to learn and try again. However, not all children are as bold. Some may convince others they are bold, but it is more of an emotional drive than true decisiveness. I would note helping your children learn to listen to the Lord and make decisions are vital to developing boldness.

I have children who are risk-takers and those who are more cautious. Some of my kids are bolder than others. As you observe your children, I encourage you to pay attention to the words they say and how they handle issues with their siblings or friends. It doesn’t take long before you start to see patterns of behavior when faced with being courageous or decisive. When you do see areas of struggle, write them down so you don’t forget. Then start praying for them. Be specific. Ask the Lord to help you discover opportunities for them to practice. As they improve, give them praise. There is nothing like hearing your words of affirmation. It encourages them to try again.

As parents, we are well served to remember that our child’s decisions are rarely immutable; there is almost always a way of escape should the need arise. Therefore, teaching a child how to get out of a situation with honor and grace is critical to landing in a better place. The child who needs to process benefits from a gentle reminder that they can always change gears and do something else.

Avoid Labels
Parents and/or teachers tend to label children. Though well intended, those labels can have unintended consequences. For example, we may say, “Oh, she is just shy,” when our daughter does not respond to a friend’s question. Or “My son is such a talker. I never know what is going to come out of his mouth.” If we are not careful, children can create a narrative in their mind that they play over and over. Depending on the child, that constant replay creates an opportunity for immature children to believe something about themselves that might not be true. By avoiding such labels, we lessen the probability of negative beliefs forming so they can grow and mature into the person they are created to be.

My daughter is an introvert. As a child, she hid behind me when people tried to talk to her. Getting her to respond took great effort on my part. She was fine talking one-on-one but talking to strangers, no way. After years of raising her I realized something; her boldness manifests itself on the soccer field and basketball court, not in large groups. It was not necessary for her to carry on a conversation for boldness to be seen in her life. Her soccer and basketball skills earned the respect of her teammates, which resulted in a leadership role. In a society that is driven by social norms, your child has an opportunity to model boldness for their peers in a variety of ways. As an adult my daughter is still on the shy side, but though shy, she has developed a confidence in who she is that translates into boldness. Boldness in her faith, in sports, and in life. This can be true of your child, too.

“The simplest way to define boldness is the willingness to take risks and act with courage and confidence.”
The point is that boldness is not about taking a risk by the age of ten, but learning how to develop boldness before graduating. It will take time for your less decisive or emotionally driven children to learn this skill, so start slow. Be intentional. Practice on insignificant things, then expand out. Boldness does not mean being loud or talkative. Boldness is having the confidence to take risks and action.

Depending on the ages of your children, you have years to help them learn that boldness is developed over time. Learning to be confident, courageous, and decisive will help them learn to be bold. And the good news is as we model boldness and avoid labels, we get to help equip them to become bolder, knowing it is a process. Your faithfulness and intentionality will yield rich rewards in the lives of your children.

Connie Albers Author

onnie Albers is a mother of five and veteran homeschool mom who has used her public relations background to help shape the homeschooling movement for twenty-seven years. She has spent much of her adult life as a homeschool mom and mompreneur with an outreach and ministry to parents through her speaking, writing, and various leadership roles. More recently Connie’s newest book, Parenting Beyond the Rules by NavPress, outlines positive approaches to parenting today’s teenagers. Her enthusiasm for helping others navigate social media led to her taking a post at Social Media Marketing World. Connie’s mission is to equip moms to live their life with confidence and joy.

Connie and her husband, Tom, have been married thirty-four years and have homeschooled their five children, all of whom continued their studies and graduated from the University of Central Florida, from the beginning.