By Kate Russell

Risk taking is a natural part of our everyday lives.

Many risks we probably don’t even think of as risky: pouring our tea, driving our car, crossing the road etc. We are so used to these things going right that we no longer associate them with danger. Other risks we take on after careful consideration of the dangers/ pitfalls, the potentials and the overall feeling of worthiness it brings. The risk is at the forefront of our brain and it takes a level of consciousness before the final decision is made. These might include such things as a new job, a big role, parenthood or embarking on thrill seeking adventures etc.

It is important for us to be able to weigh up all the risk factors to make good decisions and keep ourselves safe in our daily lives. Often this can be done without too much consideration, if any at all, as we have the benefit of past experiences telling us the likely outcome. At one point, though, nearly everything we have done in our lives was a new experience and one that came with an element of risk.

Pushing ourselves outside our comfort zone is often daunting but our ability to do this with a degree of confidence largely stems from our childhood experiences. It often goes hand in hand with how many risks we have been exposed to, how we handled them, the outcome and how the whole experience made us feel; our accomplishment.

 

That feeling of accomplishment is what makes many of us strive to achieve more and more in life.

It makes us jump at the opportunity to take on projects and roles that we might have otherwise shied away from lest we fail. The emotion of pride, stemming from achievement made with an element of risk is a powerful one and one our children deserve the chance to feel genuinely and often.

It is for this reason that I give my children a certain freedom in their explorations. I weigh up the risk to benefit ratio for them, consider the worst that could happen and the likelihood and then let them go for it.

 

Watching them take risks and test their limits certainly gives me plenty of heart in the mouth moments but these moments are always out – shadowed by the feelings of pride and joy I feel as I see my children’s confidence blossoming and growing before my very eyes.

For my children, they are right at the beginning of their own personal discovery. These risk-taking opportunities  are helping them to learn more about themselves, their capabilities and their competencies. They are learning what it feels like to push themselves outside their comfort zones and what it feels like to overcome fears and achieve.

They have their own in-built sense of safety that prevents them jumping straight into a running stream of water adorned with large rocks and boulders without due care. There is no need for me to tell them to be careful. They are well-aware of the risks and they are learning to understand their limitations as their risk-taking experiences mount.

 

Sure, accidents happen. We have had our fair share of bumps, bruises and scrapes and these are all part of the risk to benefit equation. They help my children make decisions about how far they can push themselves, safely and as Teacher Tom said in a recent article

“No one wants children to get hurt, but at the same time every injury you prevent in childhood is just an injury pushed off into the future because as we say, the only way to learn about asphalt is to fall on it.”

So I will continue to enjoy watching my children take risks and push themselves to explore and discover their capabilities and in doing so they will feel that powerful emotion of pride through accomplishment. I am confident that its addictive nature will see my children strive and push themselves outside their comfort zone long into their adult life.

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