Supporting Children in Taking Healthy Risks

By Teacher Shannon

One of the best ways to learn is to make a mistake. Learning to not only make mistakes but to also learn from them without getting angry is a lifelong endeavour. As adults it is important to be able to support children in situations where mistakes may happen. 

What are healthy risks? This depends on the age and development of your child. 

A Toddler 1 student may find that crossing the bridge on the playground is scary and there is a risk in them falling. As an adult we can see that there are ropes to support them on either side, if they fall there is nothing sharp around to hurt them, and there are more benefits in learning to cross the bridge than to be stuck to one side.

 For a K1 or K2 student they may find that they want to jump off of the playground from the top rather than go down the slide. As their parent or teacher this can seem like something dangerous to do but the child almost always sticks the landing and there is sand to protect them if they do not. So, if the child feels comfortable enough to take the risk in jumping, why as an adult should we stop them? 

There are three possible outcomes for your child in this example

  1. Your child does not feel comfortable in jumping and goes to find something else to play with
  2. Your child wants to jump, sticks the landing on both feet, and is able to feel proud in their accomplishment
  3. Your child wants to jump, jumps and did not stick the landing, they are not hurt because of the sand, but are able to learn how to do it better next time

Benefits of taking risks include…

  • Builds confidence
  • Teaches valuable life skills
  • Helps build motor skills
  • Encourages the development of self-regulation
  • Allows Children to have an appropriate amount of independence by being trusted by the adult
  • Helps adults see areas of strength or areas that may need support

If you as the adult are unsure of your child taking on a challenging task, instead of saying no that is too dangerous, take a look at the task and see where you can help your child to one day complete it. For example, if your 18 month old is very interested in another child’s bike and wants to ride it for themselves, break down the skills needed to ride the large bike by providing your child with balancing activities, pedalling a tricycle, etc. Until your child is comfortable enough to do these tasks then you can reintroduce the bicycle. 

The benefits of trying and failing far outweigh not trying in the first place. I hope you are able to learn something from this and both you and your child see the world as a place full of opportunities for growth, both in success and failures.