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For our children, risk is OK, danger is not

Special to Village News

As parents, their common goal is to protect their children as much as possible. They don’t want to see their children hurt physically, emotionally or psychologically. And yet, most people realize that such a goal is virtually impossible to achieve.

While it’s relatively easy to try and keep children from some physical harm through actions like making them buckle up every time they're in the car, making sure they have the necessary vaccinations and keeping a regular schedule of doctor and dentist visits, children are sometimes still going to get hurt just because they’re children. Climbing that tree probably seemed a good idea, just like sledding down that steep hill looked perfectly safe and riding that mountain bike off that jump looked like it would be nothing but a fun experience.

The reality is that children often aren’t able to see the danger in certain activities with the same clarity that parents can. Yet, despite parental fears, it actually is a good thing for children to learn to take some risks, even if they fail at them sometimes. The intention for parents should be to help educate their child on the differences between danger and risk.

While climbing a tree will often look dangerous to a parent, a child will only see the challenge. But if the child has not been taught on safe ways to climb that tree, what height limits are OK and similar information, it can indeed be a perilous activity.

When a parent can instruct on how to minimize danger and instead enjoy the benefits and thrills that overcoming risk can offer, the parent is helping their child develop in a healthy way. Children are sensitive to things that are bothering or worrying their parents, and if a parent is communicating constantly the need to be careful or to avoid most situations or activities, it only heightens a child’s fears and feelings of insecurity.

But when a parent encourages sensible risk, and helps teach a child how to approach and conquer such risk, they are helping that child to grow and feel more secure, confident and successful.

Everyone want their children’s world to contain as little danger as possible, but encouraging a child to take on some risk and teaching them to do it in safe ways is essential to having that child develop into a strong, secure adult.

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