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We think teaching kids to take risks is an essential part of helping them grow into self-assured adults. And while we do everything we can at Avid4 Adventure to keep them safe, we also empower them to push their limits as they explore the outdoors!
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At Avid4 Adventure, we think
teaching kids to take risks is an essential part of helping them grow into
self-assured adults. And while we do everything we can to keep them safe, we
also empower them to push their limits as they explore the outdoors.
A piece on raising risk-takers in the Chicago Tribune suggests we're not alone
in our thinking: "Parenting experts say that children who are encouraged
to take reasonable, safe risks … tend to grow in confidence, are willing to
make mistakes and use each failure as an education." One of these experts,
Dr. Deborah Gilboa, a professor, parenting speaker and mother, explains that
this kind of risk taking is, "like everything else, something [kids] learn
from parents and the experiences we provide them with."
But how can loving parents turn off the urge to overprotect and
provide their kids with these kinds of confidence-building experiences? Here
are some tried and true strategies:
to choose their level of challenge: Don't reflexively discourage your kids from taking
on a tough new endeavor or force them to try something before they're ready.
Instead, let them take the lead in deciding what to try, providing plenty of
support along the way. (Daring kids may need help thinking through their next
adventure, while timid ones may need some hand holding.) At our camps, we call this "challenge by choice." It's
about making sure your kids have the skills they need to face the challenge at
hand and encouraging them to push their boundaries, but ultimately letting them
decide how far to stretch.
environment: Before every activity at Avid’s camps, we do an environmental debrief.
If we're mountain biking, for example, we have kids check for rocks or roots,
look for other cyclists, assess the width of the trail and so on. We let kids
identify the potential risks in their path so they have a clear picture of what
to expect. It's a powerful skill that's easy to practice at home. The next time
your family is on a hike, have your kids assess what's ahead. What's the weather
like? Is there any poison ivy on the trail? Steep drop-offs?
thoughtful decision-making: Avid4 Adventure teaches kids three things to
identify when approaching a risk: 1. What's changed in the environment (maybe
their hiking trail gets steeper or muddier), 2. What could happen when encountering
that risk (they could slip or twist an ankle) and 3. What can they do to lessen
the risk (maybe they'll suggest adopting a slower pace or looking for
handholds)? Whatever the risk, let your kids use their critical-thinking skills
to assess it, explore how the situation could play out and decide how to move
Let them live
the consequences: Once they've decided how much they want to try, assessed their
environment and made a thoughtful decision about what to do, let them do it. If
a consequence isn't life threatening, let them experience it. Certainly,
there will be bruises and skinned knees, but they're a small price to pay in
return for your kids learning good judgment in the face of risky situations,
gaining the confidence that comes from trying something new and understanding
that falling down is just part of life.
Set a good
example: If you want to raise kids who take positive risks, you have to
take some yourself. As Dr. Gilboa puts it, "teaching children the skill of
reaching and risking happens similarly to most life skills we impart to them—by
modeling the behavior, talking about it and giving them lots of opportunities
for both success and failure." If they never see their parents try
something new or scary, never see them fall or fail, how will kids have the
confidence to take risks themselves?
Raising risk-takers can be scary for parents, but the
rewards—more confident, thoughtful, responsible kids—are immeasurable. Just ask
the Avid4 Adventure parent whose daughter spent last summer learning to take
positive risks under the mentorship of our excellent staff:
"My daughter isn't
the adventurous type, [but the counselors] caringly challenged her to
be open to new experiences. Her confidence soared with all the new things she
is now able to do." Colorado Day Camp Parent
For over 10 years, Avid4
Adventure has been empowering kids to choose active, outdoor lifestyles. Our
Bay Area day camps are for Pre-K – 7th graders, located in Mill Valley,
Oakland, Palo Alto and Saratoga, and offer activities such as kayaking, rock
climbing, mountain biking, stand up paddleboarding and more (all in one week!)
Register HERE before February 29th
and enjoy Early Bird savings. Use the code chatterpost16 for a discount.
This is such a great post. As someone who grew up with parents who took me to Jerusalem, Jordan, and places in South America and let me ride camels and hold pythons at the age of 4, I think this is a HUGE part of helping kids build confidence. If you don't show them all these great things that come out of risk taking and if you let them make their own choices they learn the necessary skills that some people don't learn until their middle age! Amazing points and couldn't agree more.
Posted by Hannah S on Apr 17, 6:23 a.m. |
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