In modern life, we parents put a great deal of energy into keeping our children safe. We have all sorts of laws and “best practices” that teach our children what an unsafe and precarious world they live in. We can spend so much time not only trying to keep our children safe, but also at making sure they feel confident and successful that we may not remember how important taking risks and actually “trying” is to building self esteem and confidence too.
Children who learn to take risks and move out of their comfort zones, develop into more resilient, creative, and self-confident people. Contrary to what some believe, it is not having an easy time of things and experiencing perpetual, positive, success that builds resiliency and strength of character–but taking risks and learning how to maneuver and face various situations and experiences. We can encourage our children to take risks by nudging them into trying new things, supporting their efforts when they do want to try something different or new, and focusing on experiences and processes instead of outcome. Help children see “other reasons” for taking risks and trying new things besides being perfect or the best–or even help them let go of the need to “not be foolish.”
Wrestling with our own issues around trying new things or stepping out of where we fell comfortable and secure may be the first step in creating a supportive environment for our kids. For parents who are very focused on how things “look” or on having an appearance of mastery and skill, or for those who would rather just slide in under the radar without making much of a fuss, encouraging some degree of risk-taking can really be a struggle. But, keeping in mind how important resiliency and the ability to try the new and unfamiliar are for confident children who are fully engaged with life might help you to encourage some of their risk-taking efforts.