5-Minute Courage Workout: Pull Up a Chair and Make Yourself Uncomfortable!

Compiled and written by Lisa and Jennifer:

Part of developing physical courage is to gain, through experience, a comfort with discomfort.  It is impossible to know one’s physical limits and/or capacity without testing them.  It is through conquering our fears of high places, being cold,  underwater, fatigued, thirsty, or whatever particular physical discomfort we may have, that we have the opportunity to boost our physical courage capacity.  It is through confronting physical discomfort and pushing through pain, that we can learn (and teach our children) that we have the capacity to survive situations that may someday truly test our limits.  Our assumed limitations often have as much to do with the story we tell ourselves about our physical discomfort as any actual physical limitation.  Pushing ourselves just that little bit past our usual comfort zone can often reveal surprising strength.

Here’s a list of 5-Minute Courage Workouts by age range to help you and your child to develop some comfort with physical discomfort:

                          Grab Some Lion’s Whiskers Today!
  • Toddler:  the next time you are hanging out together on the jungle gym, taking a walk, or tumbling in gymnastic class, see if you can create an opportunity to push yourselves just a little bit harder, just a little bit longer.  When your child says “I can’t.  I want to be carried,” see if you can coach him/her to build some endurance with the play.  Promise, “Let’s just play for 5 minutes more, and then we will take a break.  I know you can do it!”
  • Preschooler:  the next time you are headed out on a wintery walk, let your child choose if he/she will wear a coat.  Pack the coat along with you, just in case.  After 5 minutes or so on the walk, ask your child “Do you feel cold enough to need your coat?”  Let them have the experience of needing to wear the coat, instead of just assuming or wanting that for them.   
  • Early elementary student: ever been drenched in a rainstorm or fallen overboard?  Uncomfortable isn’t it, to be walking or swimming around in water-soaked jeans.  How about simulating such an experience for your child by encouraging them to take a bath tonight fully clothed?  See if they can stay in the tub or shower for 5 minutes in their soaking wet, heavy clothing! 
  • Upper elementary student or ‘tween:  have a sit-up challenge with your child tonight.  Before heading to bed, ask your child if they would like to see how many sit-ups you both can do in 5 minutes.  You can do them as slowly or quickly as you want.  Teach them how to do a sit-up, if they don’t know how, or google how to do one effectively if it has been awhile.  The goal is to experience the pretty much immediate discomfort and encourage one another to push through that feeling until the timer goes off.    
  • High schooler or teen:  The next time your teen goes to raid the fridge, ask “Are you hungry?  How do you know you’re hungry?”  Have a 5-minute discussion with your child about the difference between craving and hunger.  Sometimes we crave sugar and simple carbohydrates, when our bodies really need a muscle and brain building protein-enriched meal.  Sometimes we are hungry for time, attention, rest, or human connection, more than we are for food.   Sometimes out of emotional discomfort, we hope food will fill the void.  True hunger is different.  A discussion like this can also help us develop compassion for what it might be like to be truly hungry due to poverty or famine and to develop gratitude for the food that we do have in our fridge.  Pausing before eating can also help develop tolerance for being “just a little bit hungry” and still being okay when we can’t immediately satisfy every craving. 
What is one of the physical courage challenges you or your child has faced recently?  Have you quit smoking, run a half-marathon, learned to juggle, moved on from the bunny hill,  joined a new gym, or completed chemo? 

We love to hear your stories! 

Here are some other 5-Minute Courage Workouts to tackle physical courage:  

Playing With Fire, Navigating the Neighborhood, Talking Dirty, It’s a Dog Eat Dog World.

One thought on “5-Minute Courage Workout: Pull Up a Chair and Make Yourself Uncomfortable!

  1. mary p

    Great article! I have clear memories of the ways in which this has provided teachable moments along the way. When my son was in 8th grade, we were doing some pretty intensive bike training before taking a 6 week journey in Europe…on tandems. Learning to captain this big rig was daunting to me. Perched on the back seat, on our very first time out, he said to me "Mom, what's the worst thing that could happen? You'd fall off?Come on, you can do it!"I'll never forget the smile that came to my face and heart, knowing my son was teaching me a lesson we had taught him along the way.

  2. 1TootieFoodie

    Love the tip for toddler and preschooler.My daughter is at the age where she wants to make her own decisions, toddler/preschooler, and she has been doing better.I am trying to encourage her to be bolder and speak up during play dates when toys are getting yanked from her or if she gets pushed.I usually see how she handles it but she always look to me, and I feel the need to stand up for my child when the other parent is not handling theirs.

  3. Lisa Dungate

    Thanks so much Mary P and Tootie Foodie for posting your great stories about how you are supporting your children–and how they, in turn, mirror your own good advice back in inspiring ways! Outside our comfort zone is where the courage magic really happens! Blessings on the journey!


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