Protection and safety are both good & noble words, and good & noble pursuits. But we live in a society that has a tendency for the pendulum to swing too far in one direction most of the time… and it is my belief that we as a society have unconsciously allowed that to happen in this matter as well. As a society, we have typically attempted to eliminate all risk, danger, and adventure, from the lives of our children e.g. our schools… and many parents too… no longer permit our boys to climb trees. We must remember that where any imbalance exists… unhealthy symptoms are always quick to follow.
I subscribe to a weekly newsletter from Tim Elmore of ‘Growing Leaders’… http://growingleaders.com/blog . Tim recently wrote an article directed towards parents, entitled “We Risk Too Little”… which I felt was worthy of sharing here…
“Children of risk-averse parents have lower test scores and are slightly less likely to attend college than offspring of parents with more tolerant attitudes toward risk,” says a team led by Sarah Brown of the University of Sheffield in the UK. Aversion to risk may prevent parents from making inherently uncertain investments in their children’s human capital; it’s also possible that risk attitudes reflect cognitive ability, researchers say.” Sadly, this Scottish Journal of Political Economy report won’t help us unless we do something about it. Adults continue to vote to remove playground equipment from parks so kids won’t have accidents; to request teachers stop using red ink as they grade papers and even cease from using the word “no” in class. It’s all too negative. I’m sorry—but while I understand the intent to protect students, we are failing miserably at preparing them for a world that will not be risk-free.
Psychologists in Europe have discovered that if a child doesn’t play outside and is never allowed to experience a skinned knee or a broken bone, they frequently have phobias as adults. Interviews with young adults who never played on jungle gyms reveal they’re fearful of normal risks and commitment. The truth is, kids need to fall a few times to learn it is normal; teens likely need to break up with a boyfriend or girlfriend to appreciate the emotional maturity that lasting relationships require. Pain is actually a necessary teacher. Consider your body for a moment. If you didn’t feel pain, you could burn yourself or step on a nail and never do something about the damage and infection until it was too late. Pain is a part of health and maturity.
Similarly, taking calculated risks is all a part of growing up. In fact, it plays a huge role. Childhood may be about safety and self-esteem, but as a student matures, risk and achievement are necessities in forming their identity and confidence. Because parents have removed “risk” from children’s lives, psychologists are discovering a syndrome as they counsel teens: High Arrogance, Low Self-Esteem. They’re cocky, but deep down their confidence is hollow, because it’s built off of watching YouTube videos, and perhaps not achieving something meaningful.
According to a study by University College London, risk-taking behavior peeks during adolescence. Teens are apt to take more risks than any other age group. Their brain programs them to do so. It’s part of growing up. They must test boundaries, values and find their identity during these years. This is when they must learn, via experience, the consequences of certain behaviors. Our failure to let them risk may explain why so many young adults, between the ages of 22 and 35 still live at home or haven’t started their careers, or had a serious relationship. Normal risk taking at fourteen or fifteen would have prepared them for such decisions and the risks of moving away from home, launching a career or getting married.
So I encourage you Dads & Mums… allow and actively encourage your children to experience some calculated risk, in your presence, and under your watchful tutelage of course. As Helen Keller said… “Life is either a great adventure or nothing.“. None of us want our children’s lives to amount to nothing. Let’s together take the pledge to lead and guide our children toward living a life of great adventure.
Why not start by registering for one of our upcoming Father-Son or Dad & Daughter Adventures, now, here… http://fatheringadventures.squarespace.com/upcoming-adventures/ .
Please take the time to share your thoughts on risk and adventure here…