As; Parents, Caregivers, Early Childhood Educators, and Teachers, we understand the importance of observing and assessing the children’s social-emotional growth, and should understand the importance of encouraging risk-taking as a way to foster that social-emotional growth.
As Albert Einstein, once said “ A ship is always safe at shore, but that is not what it is built for” on the same token, it may feel that your child is safest, when not taking risks, but risk taking is essential for social-emotional growth, and it is actually harmful to keep your child from exploring their inherent needs.
Very often, you may hear your child say things that infer, they cannot do something, such as; put on their own coat, get themselves dressed, brush their own teeth, toilet learning, feed themselves, or clean-up their toys, “can’t and fear” often go hand-in-hand.
When we buy into the “I can’t” attitude, what we are essentially doing, is letting fear of failure dictate our children’s lives, as opposed to letting them experience the struggle, which eventually will allow them to succeed.
So what can we do, to encourage our children to take risks? For starters, we can positively model self-help skills, and, encourage independence. Risk is inevitable and important, and guiding children to involve themselves in a good risk, encourages self-regulation, self-confidence, and self-esteem that they wouldn’t otherwise possess.
A “good” risk is an action, activity, or behavior that involves a “leap of faith” and needs to be learned and practiced, and when children engage in this risk taking they are learning how to think independently, and gaining confidence in their abilities.
Parents and Caregivers can encourage risk-taking easier, when they understand the value, know the difference between healthy and unhealthy risks, can productively evaluate the risk factor, led by example, and provide safe and healthy opportunities for your children to take risks.
Safety considerations, need to be balanced with children’s need for; play, learning, and fun. Children crave adventure and responsibility, and not enough risk-taking can manifest in non-productive behaviors.
Risk-taking helps improve children’s large motor skills and coordination and a “risk-free” life can actually diminish learning and development opportunities. By allowing children to take developmentally appropriate risks we are encouraging them to; understand their strengths, abilities, and achievements, as well as, their limitations. This also allows them to have the ability to; assess risk, problem solve, communicate, and collaborate, all skills they will need throughout their lifetime.
For more information on risk-taking and how to encourage such, check-out these web-sites: