As parents, we are very quick to tell our children to not do things that we consider dangerous or risky. We think they might hurt themselves or there may be a negative outcome to their risky playing.
However, by telling them not to do something we are actually hindering their development, confidence and resilience. Playing is one of those things that we want to encourage so that they are able to engage with friends or by themselves without our input.
The Benefits of Taking Risks
It is very easy to say ‘Don’t do that’ but being over-protective will not allow children to experience the consequences or outcome of their actions. If they climb a tree they may fall – but what would they have learnt? If they go on a zip wire and enjoy it – they will have found something they like doing. If we had stopped them going on they would have never known that they liked zip wires. What kind of parent would you prefer to be? The one who allows them to take risks or the one who doesn’t?
Playing should be fun but there has to be an element of risk involved sometimes. A child who does not know what is going to happen next can find that exciting. They need to be able to decide for themselves how much risk they want to take so that the play is fun, exhilarating but not too scary for them not to take part (when they are of an age to make that decision for themselves).
Helping Children to Take Risks in Play
We can help children take risks and be more relaxed about them doing so by giving them the freedom to explore and play as they choose. At the same time they need to be aware of the real dangers that pose a realistic threat to their safety. For young children this would be about getting lost and for older children it is about how other people behave when they are out and about with friends.
Taking more risks in play is so important. Children want to be able to be less restricted and governed by Mum and Dad. They want to be able to explore and try new things. If you are a parent who finds this tricky think about what they will learn from the experience. You are always either nearby to help them if they need it or a phone call away. Take a deep breath and let your child take that risk!
How do you feel about risk? Are you happy for your children to take risks or do you prefer to play it safe? Perhaps your children have other ideas to you! I’d love to hear your thoughts via the comments or my blog…