Purim: Teaching Jewish Children To Be Courageous

07 Mar 2017

We all love Purim, the megillah reading, the graggers, the mishloach manot, the candy, the costumes and the parties. We  also love the Purim story. Good against evil and our people’s ultimate triumph. We gladly pay homage to Mordechai and Esther the true heroes who went to bat for the Jewish people. They showed a tremendous amount of courage and bravery.

Bravery is very much a Jewish trait and we know many Jews who are modern day heroes, showing courage in difficult situations, fighting BDS on campus, fighting for agunot, our brave soldiers in the IDF and so many more.

We want to reinforce this very important character trait of courage or bravery in our children and we can. Anytime we want to reinforce any behavior in our children we need to point out what they are doing right. We want to point out any time that they act courageously. As we mentioned in a previous article, children learn in concrete ways. We need to put the word brave and the action of courage together for them. That is why it is so important to point out when they are actually acting courageously.

It can sound like this:

“You didn’t want to get your shot, but you did it anyway. That’s called being brave.”

“You got into the pool even though you were scared! That’s called being brave.”

“You stood up for yourself. You told your friend that you did not want to play the game that she was playing even though you knew she was going to be angry at you. That is called being brave.”

There are children who are more timid than other children. We need to let them know that any time that they move out of their comfort zone, it is an act of bravery for them. For example, there are children who have a time sharing their knowledge in the classroom, or have difficulties trying new experiences like boating, zip-lining or being in a play. It is very important that these children are praised when they do overcome their fear, even if it is just one small step towards bravery:

“Wow, you came down to the pier with us, even though you don’t love boating. That’s called being brave.”

“Mrs. S. said that you asked her to tryout in private for the play. You moved out of your comfort zone there!”

“Wow, you tried the zip lining. You didn’t like it but you tried it. Trying new things is brave!”

When their siblings or friends call them a scaredy-cat, we can still help reinforce their image of themselves as brave.

“Sara called you a scaredy-cat! Well she did not see you trying that chinese food last week. That was brave!”

We can all be brave, even young children in small ways. We have it in our Jewish genes after all!

Happy Purim to all!

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.