Allowing Children to Take Risks

A very long time ago I read something in a parenting book (of course I can’t remember which one) that said that we as parents should allow our children to do risky things, even those things like tree climbing that scare us half to death. Further, this author said never to tell a child to be careful. The reason given was that by telling our kids to be careful we are essentially saying something along the lines of, “You are too stupid to exercise enough caution in this endeavor, and so therefore you need me to remind you to be careful.” Rather said the author, we should trust that our children have a healthy sense of self-preservation and know their boundaries.

And so I followed her advice (within reason). I allowed my kids to climb trees, swim in ocean currents, free range on their bikes and so forth. I did of course draw lines, but I think my lines were drawn at places that often made other parents uncomfortable, and quite frankly, made me uncomfortable. And I didn’t tell them to be careful. Thankfully, they are both still intact, not even a broken bone.

In theory, my kids should be more confident, and less afraid of what is waiting for them in the unknown world of adulthood. But, there is no control group in child raising. I am not necessarily encouraging this path for others, merely, asking parents to consider where they are drawing those lines, and why, and to reconsider the words, “be careful.”

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