Executive Summary:  Risk Taking and why it is important for your kids!

According to research, “Risk is an essential component of a balanced childhood. Exposure to healthy risk, particularly physical, enables children to experience fear, and learn the strengths and limitations of their own body.” (1) With that being the case, why has the distance our kids roaming decreased by 90% in the past 30 years? (2)

If you are successful, I argue you only became successful because you took smart, calculated risks. How do you ensure your kids follow suit?

  • Don’t rescue your kids. Parents are quick to run in and help their kid out of a tough situation. Let them figure it out. It exercises muscles they will need in the future.
  • Put your kids in situations where they aren’t comfortable. If you are familiar with resistance training, the same technique should be used with your kids. Put them in situations where they are pushed beyond their comfort level.
  • Show your kids what calculated risk-taking looks like. Explain what risks you are taking and why. Help them understand your thought process when it comes to evaluating risk.
  • Let your kids see you decide against taking a risk. Learning when to back off is as important as when to push on.
  • Why is teaching your kids to take risks important?

Children often feel uncertain about doing daring things like going down a water slide or meeting new people. Everywhere in the world, you find kids who get afraid when they see themselves in new situations. Many of them respond with fear and anxiety and may even feel hopeless and helpless. You know how children always love to be in control. However, when they face new experiences, they feel powerless and frightened that they can’t predict what’s coming.

But as a parent, how do you help your child to get used to new things, new habits, new people and new places? How do you ensure that your children have a healthy response toward challenges or first times? What do you do to assure them that nothing is more significant than them and that they can conquer the world? Consider the following tips and probable activities that you can engage in to help them become good risk-takers.

  1. Assess your Risk Behavior – As a parent, how often do you take risks? What kind of chances do you choose? Are you one to try out new recipes, visit new places or just cower in fear? At work, do you confront problems head-on or find a way to make excuses and avoid doing anything? Be willing to assess your risk-taking habit and share it with your children. Help your son to know that when you were younger, you also made individual decisions, many of which paid off.
  2. Echo their Fears – When you notice that your daughter is unwilling to mingle with her classmates in her school, take it upon yourself to calm her fears. Help her to understand that it’s okay to feel like they may not like her. Tell her that you know she doesn’t want to be mocked or bullied. But that trying won’t hurt either. She may make lifetime friends right there.
  3. Take the Risk together – Parents should never get tired of being examples. If you’ll like your kid to try something new, why not do it with him? Activities you can try include learning to play a new sport, going rock-climbing or even going to your grandparents” house through another route. Take the lessons, allow him to fall and get hurt as many times as possible (with caution though) but watch him get up and learn. Don’t be too afraid to allow him to make moves. When he sees you making an effort, he’ll be inspired to believe he can do it too.
  4. Don’t Push, Don’t Surrender either – It’s important that you don’t pressure your daughter into eating a new meal or visiting a friend. Even if you understand perfectly, don’t take this as a reason to compel her or insinuate reasons why she must go. Allow some spontaneity. But also, teach her not to give up on trying. It’s important that she makes a consistent effort to try out new challenges. We only get better at our habits when we do them repeatedly.
  5. Celebrate their Success – When your kid has successfully learned a new thing or taken a good risk, always congratulate her and show your support. This move goes a long way in building her confidence and outlook to life in general.

Risk taking is inevitable; even adults know that. Help your child to learn to become confident and self-assured that he can do anything. Try out an ‘I CAN’ challenge. Every day, tell them to write out something they can do. And before you know it, they’ll be ready to have an adventure and tour the world even without your guidance or protecting eyes.

We’re all trying to build our confidence in a world with so much insecurity and uncertainties. If you’ve found this article helpful, do go ahead and share it with all your amazing friends and family.

Conversation Starters for the family about risk!

(in the car to school, the store, to home, etc.)

All Age Groups (0 – 15+ Years-Old)

  • What is a risk?
  • What constitutes a good risk?
  • What is something you did today / this week that was risky? Why was it dangerous?
  • What is something you are afraid of doing? Why?
  • Can you recall something I did this week that was risky? How did you feel when I took that risk?
  • What should you consider before you take a risk?
  • What are the consequences of taking a risk?
  • What would your life be like if you didn’t take a risk?
  • Can you give me some bad risks you have decided against?
  • What kinds of risks are unhealthy?

Activities you can do with your kid(s) this week for each age range above for risk.

This week:

  • Together, decide something that your family (child(ren)) find risky, but would benefit from doing. Simply do it.
  • Encourage your kid to swing/climb/hang/slide, etc. regardless of their age. Go to a park, find a big hill and climb it.
  • Encourage your kids to introduce themselves to people. There is an excellent value in teaching your kids how to introduce themselves and have conversations with people from all walks of life. A server, a hotel attendant, you name it.
  • Sign up for a ropes/challenge/ teams course as a family. Contact your local YMCA for suggestions around trust courses. Taking risks with safety built in is an excellent way to expand your personal capability.
  • Keep an adventure Journal – Found this excellent resource at http://www.abundantmama.com/6-ways-to-encourage-ch…
  • Trust your kids. This past week, Laurie had to ‘let go’ of our five years old and let him ride his own horse on a trail ride. The risk was almost 100% ours. We had to let him try and succeed or fail!  He loved it, by the way; Mom recovered.
  • Stories from parents around the world on the topic.

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1. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/oct…

2. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2010/aug/…

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