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The Six Types of Courage

In our blog, Lion’s Whiskers, we refer to six different types of courage that we believe parents and children may require to face life challenges on the path ahead: 
  •          Physical
  •          Social
  •          Moral
  •          Emotional
  •          Intellectual
  •          Spiritual        
Although many times we see a blend of two or more of these types of courage, there is generally one that dominates the occasion.  READING THIS BLOG can help you learn to parent and practice these six types of courage!

Here are the six types of courage that we discuss, with a brief sketch of each.  You can read more detail definitions by following the links.  Every day there is new content on this blog, exploring these six types of courage.

Physical courage.  This is the courage most people think of first:  bravery at the risk of bodily harm or death.  It involves developing physical strength, resiliency, and awareness.  If you'd like to watch an inspirational example of physical courage, read some inspiring parenting tips, and/or know how we answer the question, "what is physical courage?" in detail, click here! 

Social courage.  This type of courage is also very familiar to most of us as it involves the risk of social embarrassment or exclusion, unpopularity or rejection.  It also involves leadership.  If you'd like to watch an inspirational example of social courage, read some inspiring parenting tips, and/or know how we answer the question, "what is social courage?" in detail, click here!

Intellectual courage.  This speaks to our willingness to engage with challenging ideas, to question our thinking, and to the risk of making mistakes.  It means discerning and telling the truth.  If you'd like to watch a thought-provoking talk challenging us to use more intellectual courage in our daily life, read some inspiring parenting tips, and/or know how we answer the question, "what is intellectual courage?" in detail, click here!

Moral courage.  This involves doing the right thing, particularly when risks involve shame, opposition, or the disapproval of others.  Here we enter into ethics and integrity, the resolution to match word and action with values and ideals.  It is not about who we claim to be to our children and to others, but who we reveal ourselves to be through our words and actions.  For more examples and information about how we answer the question,  "what is moral courage?" in detail, click here!

Emotional courage.  This type of courage opens us to feeling the full spectrum of positive emotions, at the risk of encountering the negative ones.  It is strongly correlated with happiness.  For more examples and information about how we answer the question,  "what is emotional courage?" in detail, click here! 

Spiritual courage.  This fortifies us when we grapple with questions about faith, purpose, and meaning, either in a religious or nonreligious framework. For more examples, inspiration, and information about how we answer the question,  "what is spiritual courage?" in detail, click here! 

Courage remains a difficult construct to accurately and categorically define for social researchers, psychologists, theologians, and philosophers alike (Woodard & Pury, 2007; Goud, 2005).  That said we (Lisa and Jennifer) are in the process of conducting research to compile an accurate definition for courage for the Lion’s Whiskers blog.  At this point, we fully acknowledge that our perspective is wholly Western and we look forward to a more multicultural, and thus universal, definition of courage as we develop this blog. 

FOR PARENTS:
We found a study (Goud, 2005) that identifies three main themes in the developmental process for learning courage—which are important for parents to know about: 
·       Building confidence and self-trust
·       Perceiving a worthy purpose
·       Managing fear
We would also like to add:
·       Empowering decision-making
·       Intention and willing action
·       Opportunities to practice and persevere
·       Ensuring a sense of belonging and self-worth.

Courage, very broadly, involves making a decision or taking action where a risk is involved—something actual or imagined to fear.  Courage is the necessary force ensuring growth rather than retreat. 

We can also say, very broadly, that there is ‘heroic’ courage in the face of extreme risk, and there is also ‘everyday’ courage, in the face of smaller challenges. For example, heroic physical courage is what we see when a firefighter goes into a burning building to save a life; everyday physical courage is what we see when a child gets up after falling off a bike and getting hurt, but tries again anyway. 

We are proposing that courage is like a muscle that needs conditioning, discipline, and plenty of opportunities for practice.  It takes time to develop courage!   As parents we guide our children’s small steps knowing they can someday lead to taking big steps on behalf of themselves and others.

We hope that with the kind of mindful practice and inspired parenting approaches explored in this blog, you can raise your child to be truly prepared to handle the courage challenges on the path ahead!


We welcome your contributions towards this effort!  Our goal is to develop helpful definitions with insight from all quarters of the globe about knowing how best to parent the next generation of courageous individuals. 



References:

Goud, N.(2005). Courage: its nature and development.
Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education and Development, 44, 102-116.

Woodard, C. & Pury, C. (2007). The construct of courage: Categorization and measurement.
Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 59, (2), 135-147.