Parenting Tips

How to Teach Your Kids about Taking Risks

Jenny Many Editorial Team

Why Not All Risks Are Bad

All risks are not bad. Some help build character. As a parent, you'll always want to keep your kids safe and out of harm's way. It's natural for you to feel this way. However, this should not mean that you prevent them from taking up the occasional risk or challenge. Risk-taking is an essential part of growing up. 

If you mollycoddle your child, he/she will never feel self-sufficient to stand on their own two feet. Instead, if you allow them to take some of their decisions by themselves, you'll hone an independent bent of mind in them. When they take these risks for themselves and succeed, even the ability to be able to simply go out and take these risks will build them the self-confidence to rely on. They won't always be looking for external validation.

If you don’t allow your child to take off the training wheels off their bicycle, how will they ever learn how to ride a bike the way it is supposed to be done in the adult world? Stopping your child from taking risks is in a way stemming their opportunity for growth and development. The only way to ride a bike is to try and fall and fall again until you get the hang of how to maintain your balance and paddle on. There's a very imminent chance of injury but this injury is for good. It is temporary. The confidence and self-esteem earned from acquiring a new skill – that's permanent, let alone the skill in itself.

Take for example, bruised knees. Running too fast comes with the risk of stumbling and falling. Yet, sometimes fast is the only way you are expected to run. Bruised knees are minor injuries that can be catered to with a band-aid at home. It doesn’t need medical intervention. So it shouldn’t be something that worries parents. Children wear play scars and bruised knees as battle scars with immense pride. It testifies for the unbridled sense of adventure and resilience in them. As parents, we should learn from this behavior. If our kids are not bothered by suffering an injury or two, why should we make a fuss about them if they are in fact not hampering their lives anyhow?

Why Allow Your Child to Take Risks?

When it comes to children, most of their risk-taking takes place as part of physical play at the park or playground such as trying to climb a tree that’s a little too high for comfort or wandering off on their own. Kids nowadays don’t get the amount of physical activity that’s recommended for them by physicians and lifestyle experts. If risk taking promotes physical health – strengthens muscles and builds up your child’s endurance – there’s no reason you should prevent your child from participating in it.

Mental and Emotional Benefits of Taking Risks

Not only physically, but risk taking can also benefit a child mentally too. It can boost their cognitive skills and creativity when they indulge in risky play. Play that isn’t limited by boundaries and needs a child to concentrate and problem-solve is certainly good for their mind. Usually, play spaces that allow for risky play encourage social interactions between these little risk-takers where one kid comes to help another who seems to be stuck.

Encourage Risk Taking for Children

Children self-regulate. Very rarely will you find a child wanting to take excessively big risks. They start small and raise the stakes as they grow confident of their skills and ability. It teaches them to be patient and persevering, both skills that are of utmost importance in life.

In a world where kids are accustomed to hearing “no” every time they ask for permission to try something out on their own, they need to be taught how to ride over their inner defeatist voice. It is our responsibility as parents to aid them in this.

How Parents Can Encourage Risk taking Behavior in Their Kids

Allow Them to Dream

Most dreams are fantasies that people spin to keep themselves motivated and satisfied. Some dreams actually come true. Many of us give up on our dreams and that is the reason we don’t end up realizing them. One needs to be perseverant and determined to work hard towards achieving their dreams. Parents who have learned to think everything through logically may find some of their kid’s dreams ridiculous but they shouldn’t try to talk them out of these dreams right then. Kids have their entire lives before them and nobody can predict the future. Maybe they will be able to make their dreams come true one day. So don’t be discouraging.

Inculcate a Sense of Responsibility for Their Own Actions Within Themselves

Tell your kid that after all is said and done, they are the only people responsible for their fate. Their life is in their hands and will play out the way they want it to. Maybe not always but most of the time. If they fail at something, it is probably because they did not work hard enough at succeeding. If your kid wants to try out skateboarding tricks and then happens to fall flat on the pavement, he/she cannot shirk his own responsibility in falling and blame the skateboard or the pavement. They must accept their role in their fall and then work towards learning how they can avoid that fall the next time around.

Teach Them Hope, Tell Them it’s Okay to Try Again at Something They’ve Failed in Before

You will fail at certain tasks that you haven't attempted before. It doesn't mean you completely abandon the task to never reattempt it again simply because you've failed at it once or twice. If you do so, you will never learn how to actually succeed at something you've failed. One must try and try again and in time, they will succeed because of their focus and willingness to learn.

Children and adults, equally, need to keep taking risks in life to be able to keep growing and developing into the best version of themselves i.e. possible. Being too comfortable never bodes well for a person's character. A life without risks is a life without possibilities. How boring is that life?


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