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How to Develop Courage in Your Child

It just takes an ounce of courage to be a better version of ourselves and live life more fully. Courage is that extra step just outside of comfort that leads us to a more fulfilling life and unexpected victories. Courage builds character, stretches capacity, and changes lives. Expressing confidence in our children and helping them to understand that risk and failure are essential to success motivates personal development and defeats fear.
Look for opportunities to celebrate courage. Spotlight characters from books and movies who act courageously. Most importantly, affirm your child when he/she uses an ounce of courage and chooses to do the next right thing even when it is scary. The American spirit has always relied on courageous thinkers, adventurers, and entrepreneurs. Our children are the next generation of great Americans as long as we encourage them. As the Duke (John Wayne) used to say, “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.”

Help Your Child Develop Courage

Help your child develop a courageous character by practicing the following ideas:
  • Heart – respectfully introduce yourself to a new acquaintance.
  • Mind – attempt a more difficult book or math problem.
  • Body – try a new sport or hobby.
  • Soul – discuss dreams and aspirations about the future and what courageous acts it takes to achieve those dreams!
“Trust the still, small voice that says, ‘this might work and I’ll try it.’” – Diane Mariechild

Learning Links About Courage


Discipline Do’s & Don’ts

Doing the next right thing is simply an act of courage. One of the most successful parenting questions I have asked my children has been, “What is the next right thing to do?” In almost every case my child knew the answer and acted accordingly. If there was uncertainty, I simply asked another question to guide the child toward actions that promote integrity and citizenship. If discipline is really about learning, then asking meaningful questions is a powerful tactic. The more our children come up with the answers on their own, the greater the thinking power we discipline into them. The next time you want to give your child an answer, stop and ask them the question instead.

Be TeRRiFic: Caring

Caring is the constant time and energy we put into our relationships, self, and stuff. Ultimately, our care expresses our love and develops the deep relationships we share. As we remind ourselves and our children what caring is, make it simple. Help them to see that the littlest gestures, the frequent efforts, the constant affirmations – these are the caring episodes of life that make a difference and provide the life and love that nurtures gratitude in our hearts and willingness in our days to reach out to make our home, school, and community a more pleasant place to live. 

  • Heart – reach out to a friend with a smile and a helping hand.
  • Mind – spend extra time practicing academic skills.
  • Body – give/get 8 hugs a day!
  • Soul – think about the talents you share with others.

“A caring person in your life is like a heartbeat. A heartbeat isn’t visible, but silently supports your life.”  – Unknown Author

“Some people care too much; I think it’s called love.” – A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh

Learning Links

Be TeRRiFic: Fair

young student with red polo uniform shirt smiling
Fair ball, fair catch, it’s in the fairway. Playing fair is a pretty easy concept when it comes to sports and now that we have instant replay, it assures it. Playing fair is pretty clear and expected on the field. Ironically, the game of life is, all too often, not so fair. How do we help our children understand that we should fight for fairness, but learn to productively cope with the inequities and injustices that challenge our days?
Rutgers professor, Elizabeth Tricomi, PhD., studied the concept of fairness and discovered that it is something hardwired in our brains and an expectation by the youngest of children. Moreover, we tend to have an inherent desire to see the underdog win and the playing field equalized. Helping our children to be fair and promote justice is a daily trial for parenting and educating children. One of my favorite simple parenting principles is to be “firm, fair, & friendly” when our wits are at an end. When we take a deep breath, gather our wits, and speak with truth and love, our children will learn to do the same.

Fair Phrases

Here are a few phrases that we can teach our kids to help them use intelligent remarks instead of hurtful ones:
  • “Tell not yell.”
  • “Be mad, but not mean.”
  • “Be helpful, not hateful.”

Blame and shame words v. Playing fair words

  • Liar! v. I heard you say something different before.
  • You cheated! v. I don’t think that’s how this game is played. The rule is…
  • You’re a tattle tale! v. I wish you would tell me first when you don’t like something I did.
  • Move over! v. I don’t have enough room. Could you move?
  • You’re not the boss of me! v. I don’t like it when you give me orders.
  • You’re not my friend anymore! v. I don’t like what you said about me. It hurt me.
  • You’re so mean! v. Stop teasing me. I don’t like it.
“Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are a good person is a little like expecting the bull not to attack you because you are a vegetarian.” – Dennis Wholey
“Fair doesn’t mean giving every child the same thing, it means giving every child what they need to succeed”. – Rick Lavoie

Learning Links

Be TeRRiFic: Responsible

two students work together on a painting project while sitting at a table

Children aren’t born with responsible habits. They learn them!

Children seem to crave responsibility. They like to be helpful and want to know that they are useful. Generally, the trick to raising responsible children is to give them responsibilities and hold them accountable for completing them.

Does your child have daily chores? Is it required that he/she pick up after playing?

Being dependable, honoring commitments, keeping promises, accepting our strengths and struggles, and accepting natural and logical consequences –these are the habits that make responsible children.

When we use our abilities to respond to the challenges in life, we take control with confidence. By telling our children to be the best version of themselves, we encourage response-ability. Providing opportunities that help children prove to themselves that they have the ability to respond to the challenges and opportunities that life avails can become a highlight of their day! 

Here are five tips from a mother of eight children:

  1. Model It: Do your best to be on time, clean up after yourself, do what you say, and say what you do.
  2. Assign It Gradually: Scaffold age-appropriate chores and activities within your family.
  3. Deal With It: Let them observe what happens if someone isn’t responsible. Strategically stop doing something that they expect you to do just so that they can experience how responsible adults usually are.
  4. Play the Scenario Game: Write 10-20 typical scenarios regarding opportunities to be responsible.
  5. No Bailouts: Let your child face the natural and logical consequences of irresponsible behavior.

Practice being RESPONSIBLE the AACA way:

  • Heart – Approach a friend who may be struggling.
  • Mind – Work hard to complete assignments with accuracy.
  • Body – Tidy the space you trace.
  • Soul – Think twice to speak nice.


  • “If you mess up, ‘fess up.” – Author Unknown
  • “Never point a finger where you never lent a hand.” – Robert Brault
  • “Quit making excuses. Putting it off. Complaining about it. Dreaming about it. Whining about it. Crying about it. Believing you can’t. Worrying if you can. Waiting until you are older. Make a plan & just do it.” –Nike

Learning Links


Habit 6: Synergize

Three children in Almond Acres Charter Academy uniforms.

There’s more than meets the eye when it comes to our school logo. At first glance, one might easily notice the circle and our 4 colors.. But upon second glance, and with a little knowledge of our study of the Habits of Mind, one may also notice that our school logo also illustrates the habit of synergy. Each of the 4 colors in the logo represents a part of our unique selves: heart, mind, body, and soul. When all 4 parts are present and working together, a whole is created that is stronger and better than the individual parts. That’s synergy!

Almond Acres Charter Academy logo

Habit 6, synergize, is all about creative cooperation. Through the process of bringing a variety of ideas, solutions and components to the table, something larger than the sum of the individual parts can be created. Synergy celebrates teamwork, creativity, diversity and being open-minded to new ways of doing things because it’s about making something better than we could achieve individually. 

The work we do at Almond Acres Charter Academy to teach teamwork, cooperation and problem solving flows directly into the habit of synergy. From classroom discussions to big group projects, our learning is made richer because of the unique skills and talents each person brings. When we listen and share, we can gain new insights, look more deeply at issues and stretch our thinking. Our diversity strengthens our learning and creativity!

We also believe that synergy is about balancing the heart, mind, body and soul to become the best version of ourselves. This requires continual reflection and refining so that we remain in balance—it’s not easy! When each part is given its due time and energy, we can strengthen the whole and we flourish. On the flipside, if we neglect any one of these elements, life becomes more challenging and the disruption causes strife in the other three areas. That’s why synergizing is an important habit to cultivate. 

Almond Acres Charter Academy is greater than the sum of all of our parts (staff, students and families) because we value the unique talents and skills each person brings to our school. The unity of our community creates a school environment that cannot be replicated! Just like the many sounds of an orchestra blending together into a beautiful harmony, synergy creates something better than a singular instrument. How do you experience synergy in your day-to-day life? 

About AACA

Almond Acres Charter Academy is a public, tuition-free K-8 school that employs credentialed teachers and administers state-mandated testing to provide families in northern SLO County an additional choice in public education. Located in Paso Robles in a newly built, state-of-the-art facility, AACA is open to all students from all communities. AACA’s mission is to help students succeed academically and socially by educating the whole child: heart, mind, body and soul. We grow great kids! 

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood

This week at Almond Acres, we are studying Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then be Understood. Seeking to understand often requires the skill of listening. Whether as a student, an employee or in a relationship, the skill of listening is essential to learning and knowing a subject or a person deeply.

An Almond Acres Charter Academy student listens intently to another student at the same desk. She is making eye contact and has her body facing the speaker. There are 4 students in red uniform shirts sitting together at a table.

Habit 5 teaches us that good communication begins with empathetic listening. Empathic listening is listening with the sole intent to understand another person within his or her frame of reference. It requires both intent and skill. The key is to truly, honestly desire to understand the other person. We can probably all relate to not being listened to at some point in our lives. It feels terrible–this is the first step to empathy!

Our ego commonly gets in the way of being a good listener. Instead of listening, we make sure that people understand our own point of view first, or only listen autobiographically. When we listen autobiographically, we filter what others say through our own story, experiences, prejudices, biases, and values. We probe by asking questions from our own frame of reference or agenda. We evaluate by agreeing or disagreeing. We advise by giving counsel, advice, and solutions to problems. We interpret by trying to figure out or analyze the other person. In short, we are putting ourselves first.

The productive and positive influence is to truly understand another’s point of view first. This practice expresses respect, mutual understanding, empathy, and courage. Great relationships, whether at home, school, or work are built on mutual respect. Loving and respecting others is an act of good listening because we tend to find better solutions to challenges in life when we consider the ideas from both sides to create the best idea. 

When it comes to learning, listening is obviously a must! Students who practice good listening skills become great thinkers. They can’t understand academic skills if they are distracted and not following a lesson. Moreover, asking questions and getting clarification develops greater understanding and makes meaningful connections between subjects and skills.

We believe teaching listening skills is as essential as reading and writing skills. We use a simple 3-step framework to illuminate this practice for all of our K-8 students: 

  1. Practice empathetic listening by asking clarifying questions and not judging the situation as you first see it. Some examples include: 
  • Can you tell me what happened?
  • How do you feel about _____?
  • What do you think led to this situation?
  • You sound really _______. 
  • What do you think is the next right thing to do?
  1. When emotions are high, stand your peaceful ground and don’t jump into the excitement. This will help the other person to connect to their thinking brain because they see you modeling it. 
  1. Respectfully seek to be understood. Once the other person recognizes that you are there to understand and want to help, it’s time to add your input. 
  • “I feel _______ about ________.”
  • “You could be right, however, ________.”
  • “Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings with me. Would you like my opinion?”
  • “That sounds interesting. What do you think about ________?”

Empathetic listening says to the person that you care about who they are, what they are feeling, and are open to helping them. It is a simple skill with a profound impact that we can all practice in our day-to-day lives. 

About AACA

Almond Acres Charter Academy is a public, tuition-free K-8 school that employs credentialed teachers and administers state-mandated testing to provide families in northern SLO County an additional choice in public education. Located in Paso Robles in a newly built, state-of-the-art facility, AACA is open to all students from all communities. AACA’s mission is to help students succeed academically and socially by educating the whole child: heart, mind, body and soul. We grow great kids!