By Laura Burki
‘Be Careful’ is a phrase that has become all too common in parent-child relationships. Of course we want our children to be safe, to not get hurt and ensure that the decision that they are making are thought through, considered and well executed. However we cripple children’s ability to self monitor and assess risk for themselves when we place that little seed of doubt in their mind that ‘careful’ is what they need to be.
There are many respected professionals in our world. People who are trying to help make a shift in the vocabulary we use when we guide and support children through situations that are fun, exciting, exhilarating and potentially a little dangerous and scary. After all, it is part of our role as adults to help children navigate their way through the challenges this world throws at them. We need to remember there are ways we can do this without wrapping them in bubble-wrap and removing all opportunities for them to ‘look out’ for themselves.
Most children are naturally great risk assessors. When given the opportunity, time and situation to be able to exercise this skill, they can use their senses to understand the situation they are in and make measured decisions to plan their response, next action or find a way out! We tend to stifle that innate ability when we stop them from taking risks in the first place. We remove all opportunity for risk, we instil exaggerated fear of a situation because we share our own ‘gut feelings’ with them before they have a chance to listen to their own internal warning signs.
"Risk permits children to push themselves to the limits of their capacities and encourages them to progress. Rising to challenges, embracing risks and taking an “I can do” attitude are important characteristics of effective learners."
- Risk and Play, Josie Gleave, 2008
Across the globe, there is a movement to replace the term ‘be careful’ with the question ‘Do you feel safe’ or even better still ‘how do you feel up there’. These two options remove our adult, on the ground judgement from the situation and allow the child to reflect and think about what their body is telling them about the situation they are in. When given a range of opportunities for them to answer this question for themselves, they start to find ways to discern between the feeling of good risk and bad risk. They find their own balance between acceptable and not acceptable levels of fear, they learn to judge between exhilaration and danger.
Remember to allow your child and our children to play, be free, learn, grow and take the risk!
They are smarter than you think.
By: Laura Burki
September 17, 2019
When it rains outside, kids don’t want to stay inside. They like to put on raincoats and boots — and purposely go out into the rain to play. They stomp in puddles. They find little streams that run down the side of the street and build dams. They turn umbrellas upside-down to see how much water they can catch. And they don’t care if they come back in soaking wet.
Now think about how we adults act when it’s raining...
Imagine you’re getting out of your car in a parking lot, it’s a 50-yard walk to the store, it’s pouring down rain — and you don’t have an umbrella. What do you do? Grab your jacket and tighten it up around yourself like a shield? Put your hand over your face, as if a 6-inch visor will keep you dry? Run as fast as you can, mentally dodging raindrops as you go?
In the end, you’re still wet.
Lets learn from our kids, our students, our children and lets take from their perspective on the rain and how much fun we can really have.
What all of this amounts to is the importance of learning how to change our perspective.
When you are out in the rain trying to dodge every raindrop, your body is tense, your heart rate is up, and the stress-inducing part of your nervous system is turned on.
But if you stand there and recognize the fact that you are simply going to get wet — it’s freeing.
You can feel the tension release, maybe even imagine it being washed away.
A tiny shift in perspective can have a huge impact on your mind, your body, and your day.
Perhaps our kids, playing out there in the pouring rain, have more to teach us than we know.