“If children feel safe, they can take risks, ask questions, make mistakes, learn to trust, share their feelings, and grow.” ~Alfie Kohn
I ran across this article from NPR Is It Time To Bring Risk Back Into Our Kids’ Playgrounds? and I say ‘Yes’ and not just at playgrounds but in life! Risk-taking is a healthy, life-long skill which builds confidence and competence, especially when kids are younger as their brains are doing the most development and the consequences are typically smaller. Overprotecting inhibits natural growth and resilience. How are kids suppose to learn if they can’t experience the decision-making process and the consequences of those choices? There is also no need to punish or add more shame to these experiences like the sadly common reaction of lectures and “I told you so” or “You should know better”.
Children learn when allowed to feel the full range of emotions and natural consequences of the experience and have the presence of a nurturing and responsive adult who can hold space for them as they process their own thoughts, feelings, and actions as well as gently guide the child to their own wisdom. I also recommended ‘scaffolding’ whereby you break new skills into manageable and reasonable steps as well as creating opportunities that are just out of their comfort zone yet within reach of their skill level and have supports in place. Even knowing this, I still get tripped up and my fears make me overreact. My interference sends the message that I don’t trust my kids and that I can’t handle my emotions.
Fortunately, my kids and I have such a secure relationship that they can tell me when I am interfering and I back off and trust them. They really know what they are capable of and want to learn. And when they ask for help from me on things I know they are capable of but are frustrated or unmotivated, and I am in a regulated state, I say, “I trust you to work it out and I wouldn’t want to rob you of the joy you’ll get when you figure it out:)” They don’t always like that response yet they have been able to experience the joy and trust so accept it. They also know that I would be right there for them when they truly need it. If I am in a dysregulated state, then I tend to go off on my emotions to which they reply, “You can just say ‘No’ mom. I don’t need to hear all that.” If we are both dysregulated, then we each react out of our own stress response and unable to connect until one is calm enough. Deep breaths, baby steps and enjoy the ride of parenting and embracing the child within ❤
Here are some related resources:
Here is a link to a free download of the book No Fear: Growing up in a risk-averse society by Tim Gill https://rethinkingchildhood.com/no-fear/
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Positive Reframe shares resources with the intent of the positive progression of informed decision making related to issues associated with emotional, relational, physical and spiritual wellness. While I share personal and professional perspectives, my writings reflect my personal opinion and not intended to substitute professional advice, diagnosis, and treatment. The online medium does not lend itself to the level of detail and rapport building required for thorough assessment and therapeutic intervention. Thus the content shared on this page is for informational purposes only. To make well-informed decisions that best meet your family’s unique needs, I highly recommend exploring and researching available options, consulting primary health care providers, engaging in respectful dialogue with friends and family as well as seek referrals from a trusted source for professional counseling. I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapy in the state Illinois, USA