Encouraging Your Children to Take Risks

Encouraging your children to take risks is about validating feelings, instilling confidence, teaching problem-solving and coping skills and letting natural consequences be the best teacher. You are your child's inner voice. By supporting them, encouraging them and being there for them, walking them through their difficult situations, you are teaching them what they will one day tell themselves.

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If we were to avoid risks, we would never go out to eat, we would never drive a car, and we would never leave the house, but we would also never make any new friends and we would be very lonely. Risks allows you to shoot for your goals, try new things and enjoy your life. Risk even allowed you to find your significant other.

Encouraging your children to take risks is of even more importance because they are learning so much when they are little. Most importantly, they are learning about the world. Can people be trusted or are people untrustworthy? Is the world a dangerous place or is it safe? Should they be scared and cautious or go conquer the world. You are in a critical position to set your child’s beliefs about the world for the rest of his or her life.

My Son’s Mountain

Our local playground is covered in climbing rocks and boy does my little one love to climb. Climbing up high and jumping off of things are his new discoveries lately. These rocks are pretty high though. To his small 3ft body, they have to tower over his head, as they are even taller than his dad and I. But he’s been set on conquering them. Could he fall or slip? of course, but we are right there to catch him and there is a nice bed of soft wood chips on the ground below him.

We began by showing him where to put his feet and encouraged him to find the next foothold by himself. We were right next to him in case he slipped, and kept nudging him on by lavishing on the praise when he succeeded and ensuring his knowledge of our continued faith in him. One step at a time, he made it to the top.

You could tell the entire time that he was nervous, anxious, and even a little scared. He was worried about falling and whether he could do it, but overall, with a little guidance and reassurance from those who love him the most, his desire to reach the top won out and he pushed forward. If you could only have seen his face when he made it to the top. Of course, we repeated everything again coming back down. Now that he has confidence in himself, he loves climbing every big rock he can find.

How exactly do you encourage your children to take risks? What constitutes a safe risk and one that is too dangerous? What if they get hurt? What should you do when your child is hesitant to take a risk? All of these are great questions. Here are some great tips for encouraging your children to take risks.

Encouraging your children to take risks is about validating feelings, instilling confidence, teaching problem-solving and coping skills and letting natural consequences be the best teacher. You are your child's inner voice. By supporting them, encouraging them and being there for them, walking them through their difficult situations, you are teaching them what they will one day tell themselves.

Try for Caution Rather Than Fear

There are many unknowns in the life of a child. From a new piece of equipment on the playground, to a new food, or someone new coming over to visit. It might even be a pet or a big move that cause your children a little hesitation. Regardless of what happens, your children look to you to know whether to be scared. And there truly are some dangerous situations. I’m sure you’ve known of a family where the kids are terrified of one thing or another because every time the situation comes up, you see the parent freak out and say something like, “No!! Don’t touch that!”

The outburst itself can be pretty scary, and the child then associates the situation to be scary from then on out, even if there truly is nothing to be scared of. Dogs, dirt, and bugs are some of the most common of these. A little caution is one thing, but next time, maybe the parent could say, “Let’s ask the owner if it’s okay to say hi to the dog first.” That way the owner can say if the dog is friendly or not before the child approaches, and the child learns that a little caution is appropriate with unknown animals.

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Be Their Biggest Supporter

Sometimes it’s the child that’s nervous. When they look to you, do they see fear, uncertainty, or support? Smile, nod, and reassure them that you are there if need be. Tell him that you know he can do it. Tell her not to give up, that you know she can figure this out. Instill in them that you have faith in them and they will start to have faith in themselves.

Constantly tell them they can’t, their not smart enough, strong enough, or big enough, and that is what they will tell themselves. My toddler surprises me all the time with what he is capable of when he puts his heart into it. Your confidence in them alone may not get them to the top of their mountain that day, but it will come. Keep it up.

Encouraging your children to take risks is about validating feelings, instilling confidence, teaching problem-solving and coping skills and letting natural consequences be the best teacher. You are your child's inner voice. By supporting them, encouraging them and being there for them, walking them through their difficult situations, you are teaching them what they will one day tell themselves.

Don’t Force Them Into Anything

One of the biggest mistakes parents make is to try and force the scary situation on their kids. Throwing them into the swimming pool, leaving them at a new daycare alone when they’re scared, calling them names or embarrassing them when they are struggling can all lead to a child never desiring to try new things again. In fact, a parent can even traumatize their children to the point that the particular situation in question becomes a lifelong issue for them throughout adulthood.

Instead, it’s easy enough to say, “Okay. We’ll try again next time.” Or “Let’s step back and watch a few other kids do it first.” Maybe even, “With a little practice, I know you’ll be able to do it too.” These kinds of supportive dialogue give kids the time to think it over, work through their feelings and muster up the courage to try again. These are great skills to learn in the future and may come in handy for a spot on the football team, or a new job, or any other number of goals they may set in the coming years.

Encouraging your children to take risks is about validating feelings, instilling confidence, teaching problem-solving and coping skills and letting natural consequences be the best teacher. You are your child's inner voice. By supporting them, encouraging them and being there for them, walking them through their difficult situations, you are teaching them what they will one day tell themselves.

Help Them to Be in Control

When they feel like they are in control of the situation, it can make a really intimidating situation feel not so big. You can help your child to be in control by validating their feelings and helping them talk through their fears. If they express fear that they can’t do it, you could say something like, “I can understand not feeling like you can do it. That rock seems pretty big. Let’s talk through what you can do and how to figure out the rest of it. I’ll be right here to help.”

Not only are you showing your support of them, but you are helping them feel normal, understand their feelings, and you are setting up the format for subsequent self-talk. By talking through the situation with them, they’ll walk through the same process later when trying to handle a difficult situation. Good going mom and dad!

Related Links:

Teaching Your Children to Be Thankful

Turning Everyday Activities into Educational Lessons for Your Kids

Positive Parenting Strategies

Encourage Exploration

Another way to teach children to take risks and learn from their environments, they will need encouragement to explore. Many parents completely baby-proof their homes to the point that kids can’t get into any cabinet, any drawer, and can’t even explore a number of rooms or even the backyard. Try moving towels and plastic containers to the bottom cabinets, put their snack options on the bottom shelf of the fridge and pantry, and setting safe parameters around the house that they can comfortably explore in safety and then let go of the reigns.

They need to see how things work, take things apart and put them back together. He needs to experience dirt and grass. It’s normal and perfectly safe if he decides to eat some of it. She needs to climb and hide figure out where everything goes. It’s okay if she unrolls the toilet paper or unloads all of the towels out of the cabinet. It doesn’t hurt anyone and it’s a great way to learn how the world works.

Encouraging your children to take risks is about validating feelings, instilling confidence, teaching problem-solving and coping skills and letting natural consequences be the best teacher. You are your child's inner voice. By supporting them, encouraging them and being there for them, walking them through their difficult situations, you are teaching them what they will one day tell themselves.

Let Them Learn

At every stage of life, they are going to encounter curve balls that they will either shy away and hide from, or will talk themselves through and tackle. Hopefully you want the child that knows how to work through and tackle difficult situations. Well, these self-talk, problem solving, and coping skills are all learned through their experiences as kids.

It’s important that children learn about handling difficult situations, learn what is safe and what isn’t, and learn what needs a bit of forethought and caution to be successful into adulthood. Natural consequences are difficult for parents. No one wants to see their children fall off a bike or out of a playset. No one wants their children to get hurt or experience anything negative, but these are all learning experiences.

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By not only allowing, but encouraging your children to take risks and walking them through the situations thrown at them, you are allowing them to learn how to take care of themselves. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you give them more space to explore and more encouragement in learning what they will accomplish.

They greatest benefit of this freedom is that sooner rather than later, they will get their own snacks, clean up their own messes, put their own toys away and want to help you with all of your chores. As a toddler, my son does a great deal around the house to help all by himself, because he wants to and the independence makes him feel good and in control of his own life.

It also makes for a happy mommy that doesn’t have to worry about what my little one is doing. Give it a shot and tell me how it’s going. You can email me at victoria@livehealthyathome.com. I can’t wait to hear from you!

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Encouraging your children to take risks is about validating feelings, instilling confidence, teaching problem-solving and coping skills and letting natural consequences be the best teacher. You are your child's inner voice. By supporting them, encouraging them and being there for them, walking them through their difficult situations, you are teaching them what they will one day tell themselves.

 


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