The past few decades have seen spiralling rates of anxiety and depression in children and young people.
There is no denying that the last year has had a significant impact on children – and the way we parent them. The pandemic has made us more anxious and risk-averse than ever before.
Children have missed out on important physical and mental development opportunities as they have been confined to their homes. It’s clear that we need a significant change.
Why is risk-taking important?
One possible reason for this anxiety is fear of the unknown. By giving children plenty of opportunities to try new things, we can remove a potential trigger for it.
Feeling a loss of control also creates anxiety. Studies have shown that children who do more chores, are trusted out and about, and are more independent have lower rates of anxiety and are more resilient.
Letting your child be exposed to some risks and talking about how they could be handled, allows them to learn to assess future risks which greatly decreases anxiety.
With summer on its way and restrictions lifting, now is the perfect time to let children have a bit more freedom and show them how to embrace risk and enjoy living.
The language of risk
The words we use can have a huge impact on our attitude. The language of risk in our society is traditionally very negative.
Talking to your child, not only about the possible outcomes of risks but also about how they can be weighed up may surprise you. Let them know they can talk to you about it by using open questions. We often use the phrase ‘What is your plan here?’ if we wish to check that a child has thought through the potential risks of the activity.
Easy ways to get started
Climb a tree – choose a tree with accessible first branches and check for dead or rotten branches. Then try to let your children figure it out for themselves.
Tree climbing is great for learning your own limitations, developing physical strength, coordination, and all-important problem-solving skills.
Use a knife – we have covered the benefits of whittling and knife use for children in a previous blog.
A recent top tip we were given for younger children was to buy some cheap soap and use a table knife to practice how to hold the knife and how to cut away from the body.
Play with fire – creating fire gives an unrivalled sense of satisfaction and can spark all sorts of conversations about how fire works and why it can be dangerous.
Our tribe loves using flint and steel to light mini fires of dry tinder and cotton wool, all within a non-flammable container like a scallop shell or an old pan.
Plan an adventure – let the kids take charge and plan an adventure to somewhere new. Depending on their ages and experience, you can let them design the route, the activities and what you will need to bring.
We hope you enjoy living dangerously this summer!