So how do we prepare our children for the wild, wild world?
The other day I noticed a mother stopping her little boy from climbing a tree because it was “dangerous”. She was worried he’d fall out and break an arm, and she had to pull a wailing child away from the tree he was so desperate to climb.
Functional parents want their children to be both safe and happy. But does keeping a child completely safe make them happy? Clearly not in this case! And I began to think, instead of protecting our children from the risks of the wild, wild world, should we rather not be giving them opportunities to engage with the risks and in so doing teach them over time how to negotiate and manage risk?
In his book Zorba the Greek, Nikos Kazantzakis says,
H. Tovey in Outdoor Provision in the Early Years (edited by J. White), says that risky play that involves a chance of injury – things like climbing, sliding, balancing, jumping from heights and hanging upside down – gives children the chance to explore their limits, as well as teaching them life skills. Their failures encourage them to explore different approaches to problem solving, and their successes show them what works!
In a 2003 publication of Early Years, A. Stephenson found that the physicality involved in this kind of rough play, is vital for developing children’s balance, coordination, motor skills and body awareness. Not only that, but research published by D. Coster and J. Gleeve, in 2008 also found that children who engage in risky play experience feelings of fun, enjoyment, excitement, thrill, pride, and achievement – in other words, a feeling of happiness and being truly alive. Exactly what our little aspirant tree climber was after and his mother wouldn’t let him have!
It is a wild, wild world.. Of course we want our children safe. But don’t we also want them to build both physical and psychological muscle so they learn over time to withstand any challenge it presents?