Teaching Children About Inner Strength

Kids understand physical strength--they emulate their favorite superheroes and grownups and regularly test their own limits, physical and otherwise. Translating the idea of inner strength or willpower, can be a little bit trickier. There’s a Hebrew word, gevurah, that roughly translates to this type of strength. Inner strength, willpower, and self-discipline are important character traits for kids to understand and develop because they balance out other aspects of a child’s social-emotional development as well. Having the courage to persevere helps kids follow—and achieve—their dreams, reach goals, and speak up for what they believe in. Get started exploring and discussing gevurah with your family using the resources below.


All Kinds of Strong by Sharon Baker

Recommended for ages 6 to 7

Sadie Rose isn’t very big. She can’t run that fast and she can’t lift heavy things. But when emergency strikes, Sadie Rose learns, along with the rest of her community, that there are many kinds of strength -- and it turns out that she’s very strong,

Fascinating: The Life of Leonard Nimoy by Richard Michelson

Recommended for ages 8 and up

You may know that Leonard Nimoy played an alien on Star Trek, but did you know that key inspiration for his role came from his childhood experiences as the child of Jewish immigrants in Boston’s North End? This story draws the connection between otherness, perseverance, and pursuing a dream.

Noah’s Swim-a-Thon by Ann D. Koffsky

Recommended for ages 5 to 6

Noah loves everything about summer camp -- except swimming. Nothing can get Noah into the pool until he learns about the camp swim-a-thon that will help give other children a chance to attend the camp he loves.

King David and Akavish the Spider by Sylvia Rouss

Recommended for ages 7 to 8

Once upon a time, a boy named David aimed his slingshot at a big spider web -- but the spider convinced him not to destroy the web. When he grew up, David became king -- and the spider became an important friend.

Zishe the Strongman by Robert Rubinstein

Recommended for ages 6 to 7

In this story based on the life of Polish strongman Siegmund Breitbart, children are introduced to various kinds of strength, including the gentle strength that comes from kindness.


When explaining an idea like gevurah to children, pointing to examples that they can readily match in videos, art, or their favorite stories helps them to better internalize the concept. While your kindergartener may quizzically tilt their head if you prompt them to “live with conviction,” they do understand ideas like working hard or waiting for something they like or want--such as dessert after dinner.

Don’t Give Up Song via Sesame Street

Me Want It! But Me Wait: Cookie Monster Explains Self-Control via Sesame Street



Set up a station where children can experiment with their own physical strength. How many squats can they do? How long can they stand on one foot? Then create another station where the children can exercise their inner strength and self-control. How long can they look at a piece of candy before eating it? How many deep breaths can they take?


Since yoga requires both mental and physical discipline, try out some yoga poses with your family. You can make things formal, by going to a local studio for a family class, or work through an exercise video online together.


12 Books to Inspire Self-Confidence
Awesome Children, Awesome Willpower via Psychology Today
Resisting the Marshmallow and the Success of Self-Control via PBS Newshour