Letting kids take risks

“Watch out!” “Don’t touch that!” “You’re too high up!” “Be careful!”

I have been knee-deep lately in articles and studies on risk in childhood. It’s because my 3.5-year old is obsessed with climbing, and while my first instinct used to be “get off that!” I’ve realized that by telling him no, I’m forced to deal with the fall-out of him doing it anyway, when my back is turned, and then he ends up really risking his own safety.

I follow a website and FB called Wilder Child, and this is a page where I’ve been reading a lot about kids and risks and the benefits of outdoor education which inherently carries more chance of risk (I love the idea of young kids doing all of their early learning in nature).

So what do we do as a society, that has gone from letting our kids run around and play until dark in the summer: “come home once the sun is down!” (I remember my mom telling me, before I jumped on my bike and pedaled away for several hours without adult supervision), to telling them that every stranger in the world is out to harm them? Why are we so obsessed with safety when, it’s been proven by many a teenager, that eventually if your kids are too sheltered, they’ll go out and have dangerous experiences to get caught up? I agree that we need to avoid knowingly putting our kids in harm’s way. I agree with teaching them about safe play and making sure you don’t get into a car with a stranger.

I certainly can’t get on board with this:

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Um yeah, no. I’m not letting my kid risk his life and his skull for the sake of taking risks (seems stupid and pointless to me). But letting him stretch a little when it comes to how he plays? Seems to me that the more we shield ours kids and don’t teach them how to respect dangerous situations, the more likely we are to push them to do things that could be very dangerous–behind our backs.

Here’s an article I just read: The risks of not letting our children take risks

I’ve really been interested in learning about letting kids experiment a little more, and how that helps their development. I want my sons to learn about being self-sufficient and how to navigate risk in the outdoors.

What are your thoughts? Has the world become too “safe” of a place? Is the argument for taking risks a silly one? Maybe it’s a more complex issue than I’m making it?

xo Sara

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