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Risk is Essential
March 7, 2019
Courage is like a muscle. We strengthen it by use.
-Ruth Gordon

“We are a nation of pushy helicopter parents,” writes Kate Blincoe in an article in The Guardian, “project managing a schedule of activities and waiting below our children on the monkey bars in case they should slip. It’s no wonder that the simulated risk of computer games is so compelling and addictive – the real world seems tame in comparison. Yet humans are designed to experience a degree of fear – manage it out of their lives and they will seek it elsewhere, on the internet, or with self-destructive behaviour.

So how can we put some of that danger and excitement back into the lives of our cosseted children? The answer is step-by-step and in an age-appropriate way. First, the outdoors is key. Outdoors time every day is essential…Encourage the toddler to poke around under hedges and permit your primary-age children to leave your sight. Unsupervised time…might lead to more cuts and scrapes, or fights between siblings, but it is what many of us did as children, and it teaches them how to make risk-related decisions for themselves. Risk perception is like a muscle that needs to be developed and flexed.”

Blincoe reports that “roaming distance” (how far children play from home), has decreased by 90% in the past 30 years.”

Source: “Risk is essential to childhood – as are scrapes, grazes, falls and panic,” by Kate Blincoe, The Guardian, October 14, 2015

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Comments (1)

Displaying 1 Comment
Talmage Steele · March 07, 2019
Talk to Me Mama
Chicago, IL, United States

In Chicago in the 1980s our first grade children had a walking pool to school. Five children ages 5-7 walked a mile in downtown Chicago with rules, but no adult, to protect them. This walking pool went along the edge of a public park and high school and across 3 intersections with crossing guards. Rules included no walking in an alley and stick together. And they did for 5 years. No one was harmed. Everyone grew up to be an empowered adult.

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