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5 Tips to Support Risk Taking in Children

Do you allow children to explore enough?  Risk taking is so important in childhood. This generation of children is so shielded from many risks that perhaps you and I were allowed to overcome as we grew up.  Taking a risk and achieving a goal provides a child with a strong sense of accomplishment.  Remember back to when you were young when you climbed a tall tree, scaled a fence or rode your bicycle down a steep hill.  It feels exhilarating that you did it by yourself.  So next time a child is trying a new skill that might be a bit risky try some of the tips before you say “stop”:

  1. Observe the situation closely. See if they can do the task safely without you interfering.
  2. If you need to interfere to ensure safety can you offer verbal suggestions instead of physical prompts?
  3. It is the same theory when children are learning any new skill assist as little as possible. Even in situations where it may be easier for you to help in terms of speeding up the task or peace of mind.
  4. Will the child succeed better if someone else is the teacher?  If you are particularly nervous watching a child perform a certain skill, perhaps ask someone else to work on the goal ie parent, aunt, uncle, etc.
  5. Stop and make sure that you are not saying “no” due to your own fears.  When children walk along in the school or the community, are you especially fearful that they may not make it safely to their destination? Perhaps start off small and follow quite a bit distance behind until you are comfortable that the child arrived to the destination.  In a school setting, send the child back to class alone but maybe call the classroom to let the teacher know the child is on his/her way.  This gives the child a sense of independence.

What do you do to support risky exploration in children?

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