My trio are currently in the throws of building a tree house. A tree house with the plans for construction firmly rooted inside someone’s imagination, and plans that change on a daily basis. But they are creating and making, and everyone is happy. They are teetering up a tree, banging nails and hammering away and we are totally happy with that. Because it is all about the children taking risks.
Let me explain further. These days I live my life with my heart in my mouth for the majority of the time I am with our three children. Since the arrival of our twin boys, I believe I have now been pushed into a better style of parenting, than the cautious helicopter style I used before (without being aware of it) when we just had our equally cautious little lady. But this double trouble are a totally different kettle of fish who are willing to try anything and everything. They are risk addicts. But as Angela Hanscom put it, “Children are natural risk takers. They need it. They crave it”. My trio first started using tools (saws, drills, hammers etc) at forest school, so as a parent I was broken into it gently. Don’t get me wrong, common sense is always applied. Drills and saws are always supervised, but they have their own proper hammers (with little handles for easier manoeuvrability) and a pot of nails, and have had access to these and wood for a good 3 years or so now. So now, without a plan, they are mounting an assault on the tree and we are happy with this…..why?
We are happy because children taking risks, for a number of reasons, is something that doesn’t go hand in hand so much anymore. We are in danger of breeding a generation who are unable to take risks due to less time outdoors for a number of factors. Increased screen time (less time in the outdoors), perceived stranger danger risk (which has led to increased adult presence watching over child activities, so less risks taken), and us adults having a more sedentary lifestyle and not setting the best of examples for getting them into the great outdoors, are some of these factors.
Children Taking Risks Leads to Benefits:
- Better physical development: They are using so many physical skills and strength as well.
- They will be learning to assess risk.
- They will learn to manage and control risk.
- Their confidence will increase.
- They will become better equipped to deal with the real world when they are older.
Children taking risks are a natural occurrence stemming from their need to learn and find out about the world they live in. Our intentions of wanting to protect our children may be good, but too much interfering and it can become detrimental to them. Yes, if they are in imminent danger of harm by all means intervene, and quickly too. Common sense does need to be applied, but instead of calling “Be Careful!” as they clamber up a tree, or swing a stick around, think what else could be said. For example; “that branch is looking a little thin where else could you put your feet”. But only say it when the situation requires it. They are often doing totally fine, but our parental instinct kicks into overdrive (and I find this so difficult with our double trouble who will virtually stop at nothing!). However, that simple phrase “be careful” it can trigger a few things. They will begin to doubt themselves and perhaps make them have a fear that they didn’t have before. We are also teaching them to avoid risk. Often they are often handling a situation perfectly until us grown ups intervene!! “The only risk is that we take away all the risks” (anonymous).
Children taking risks is natural. Mistakes do happen but they can learn from them. React if they are in danger, but in some situations the children only require some awareness and advice. They need to be encouraged to seek out adventures. I can thoroughly recommend reading Angela Hansom’s “Balanced and Barefoot” as recommended on my post Get Outdoors! My 7 Favourite Books To Inspire. So go on…get out on those adventures, give them a hammer, nails, and wood and see what they create!!