Children Taking Risks – Why We Are Letting Them Build A Tree House

“By allowing your children to take risks you are empowering them to grow brave and sure” (anonymous)

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 learn to manage, control, and even overcome their fears by taking risks” (Angela Hanscom)

Children Taking Risks Leads to Benefits:

  1. Better physical development:  They are using so many physical skills and strength as well.
  2. They will be learning to assess risk.
  3. They will learn to manage and control risk.
  4. Their confidence will increase.
  5. 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!!Children taking risks, risks, risk taking, climbing trees, building a treehouse, www.mammasschool.co.uk

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19 Comments

  1. What a brilliant thing to do for the kids. I think it is so important to let them take risks other wise they will never learn. Those skills they are gaining are essential!

  2. LOVE this so much! We let our boys take lots of risks. They climb and jump on everything and know how to use many of dad’s tools. It’s so important that they learn to take risks, and learn to judge and trust their own abilities. I will say though that we are a bit more anxious after our oldest twin had a severe arm fracture last year. He wasn’t doing anything risky at all- just a slow bike ride- but it did scare the heck out of us!

    • Ah thankyou 🙂 Oh my how worrying but just goes to show it’s just as easy to hurt yourself not doing these things!

  3. When I was young, this is how we lived, took some risks, experimented and all. Love this, I bet the kids are enjoying themselves

  4. Oh wow! How wonderful to have the opportunity to build a tree house. It’s looking good. I agree that some risk taking is a must x

  5. Oh wow what fun! I totally agree with you, I think children need to learn and often practical lessons are the best! My kids are dare devils!

  6. It is important isn’t, even though it’s scary! My eldest helped out at parents evening tonight…..being a car park attendant! That worried me!!!!

  7. I love the idea of freedom for the children to explore but i don’t know what I think about them having access to those types of tools at a young age. It’s probably over thinking though. Both of my girls have never been into climbing or adventures in the wild. I have tried to encourage it but they look at me like i am mad lol!

    • It is each to their own, and my little girl warmed to it at a slightly earlier age than her twin brothers. They are definitely not allowed to touch the saws and drills without us though!

  8. This post is what life should be like for all kids. It’s a shame how H&S and the internet have given people a skewed sense of risk and as a result, everybody is so scared to let their children do anything. We very much let our children take ‘risks’ and make choices – it helps them develop into strong independent adults – Well done you!!

  9. Wendy

    I really wish my kids had gone to forest school, every post I read about t just makes it sound so amazing and beneficial to kids. I am guilty of saying be careful a lot but I’m such a worrier! I really must try to let my boys take more risks, great post xx

    • Ah thankyou. My three loved forest school and it gave me the confidence to do so much other things with them and parent a different way

  10. I was molly coddled as a child all the way up to my teens. I think I got on my first bus ride ever at 16. There were a lot of risks we couldn’t take and I don’t know if I’d be a completely different person if I had? It’s an interesting thought…

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