The following is by Simple Kids contributor Catherine Way of Adventures with Kids.
Learning always involves a degree of risk and challenge. To learn something new you need to challenge yourself to do something you haven’t done before and risk failing a few times until you master the skill. Children happily challenge themselves to learn new skills. They want to learn to walk, or talk, or ride a bike and they are not put off by a few mistakes or tumbles.
Each new challenge that a child (or an adult) conquers, builds their motivation to learn, confidence in their ability to learn and knowledge of their capabilities.
It is tempting, as a parent who doesn’t want my child to be hurt, to say ‘no’ when my child wants to do something risky. It is tempting to remove objects and equipment rather than let my child learn how to use them. But this deprives my child of the chance to know their strengths and weaknesses and it damages their confidence in their own abilities.
If I want my child to make their own decisions as they grow older, rather than just doing what they are told or doing what everyone else is doing, I need to let them take risks and learn by experience the consequences of misjudging a risk. I need to encourage them to think about the risks that they want to take and how they can keep themselves safe. This is an important life skill.
So, how can you encourage your child to be a safe risk-taker?
Set up the Environment
Set up an environment that challenges your child’s skills but doesn’t expose them to unnecessary hazards.
- Remove hazards. This is why you should fence your pool or make sure there is something soft under the climbing frame in the playground. This is why you put child-proof plugs in your powerpoints or a lock on your medicine cabinet. Taking these precautions allows your child to explore in a safe environment.
- Supervise your child.
- Provide age-appropriate challenges so that your child is engaged when playing and not tempted to behave recklessly because there is nothing suitable to do.