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Risky Business: The Benefits of Letting Children Take Risks

The phrase “Helicopter Parent” gets thrown around a lot these days. It’s used to describe parents who overprotect their children from risk or failure, whether it’s physical or emotional.

Most of us are not as extreme as “Helicopter Parents,” but we want to protect our children. Allowing our children to take risks can be challenging for us as well. It sometimes takes a conscious choice on our part to allow our children to take risks. This is how they learn self-confidence and mastery of many physical skills.

While we all understand that in order for kids to gain confidence and grow as individuals, learning to take risks is necessary, it can still be hard to know where the line is: “Where do I step in, and when do I back off?”

As our kiddos try new things, balancing the appropriate amount of risk-taking becomes even more challenging. Fortunately, there some strategies you can use to help you find a middle ground.

Life is full of risk—however, most of it is pretty mundane and largely goes unnoticed. We make decisions every day that involve some level of risk (“Do I buy broccoli instead of peas this week and risk that my child will spit it out in protest?”)  With our children, it’s the same. Not every “risk” is obvious. Learning to ride a skateboard or climbing a tree both involve obvious, physical risk.

But then there’s the not-so-obvious risks: Letting them get a failing grade when they refuse to study for a test; allowing them to feel rejection or disappointment when they don’t make the softball team.

Allowing your child to take risks is an important part of their development. It helps your child learn to handle challenges. However, it’s not always clear which risks are best for your child.

Mild or Wild Child?

Some children are born ready for action, while others are more cautious. Most of us fall somewhere in between. Knowing where your child falls on the spectrum can help guide how you parent them.

Risk-taker: These are children who enjoy heights, speed, and excitement.

Risk-Averse: Some children need more encouragement when it comes to taking risks. Gentle guidance and lots of support are key for nudging your child into trying something out of their comfort zone.

Risk allows us to gain self-confidence and master skills. Children need daily opportunities to try things on their own and even make mistakes.

For the complete article, visit lanekids.org.

This article is brought to you by Parenting Now Parenting Educators and authors Amanda Bedortha, Claire Davis and Lynne Swartz and consultant Jay Thompson (andupdatemywebsite.com).  Parenting Now is passionate about happy, healthy families. For more information about Parenting Now please visit their website (https://parentingnow.org/) or contact us at info@parentingnow.org

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