As they say, great things never came from comfort zones. Taking risk should be part of life. You must have heard the saying ‘there is no reward without risk’. Gever Tulley, the founder of the Tinkering School, believes that we should let our kids do dangerous things like playing with fire. Kids have to learn about risk and most especially when to take risks i.e. reasonable risk. As a parent, while you want to protect and guide your risk against the unpleasant side of life, you should also realize that they have to try new things before deciding whether to continue towing that line or to give up.
Singapore Prime Minister, Mr Lee Hsien Loong believes that “that child grow up through exploration and risk-taking and take a few tumbles in the process. They will grow up more confident and resilient, better able to cope with unfamiliar or difficult situations”.
Here are some tips on encouraging your kids to take risks.
1. Validating their fears
Do not try to pretend that there is no fear, rather it should be acknowledged. Let them know it is quite normal to be afraid of taking a new step. You can even give them instances of where you, the parent, had to take decisions that scared you. The rationale behind this is to make your child know that feeling afraid is perfectly normal and you are there to guide him through those feelings while providing a platform for the necessary support. Force is never the way.
Applying force in ensuring your child carries out any activity is always a bad idea. Nobody likes being pushed to do anything against their free will and your child is certainly not different. You also need to ensure there is a balance between being too laidback and being too aggressive. Dolling out encouraging messages like ‘Nice try son, I am proud of you, just push a little harder and we would be out of here’ would help the child in realizing how far he has come along.
2. Help him or her to exert control
Venturing into a new endeavor certainly feels scary especially for children and the best step you can take is to help your child to feel in control of the situation. You can ask him or her about his opinion and choices based on the options that exist. Rather than choose the option that you think is best for them, let him/her take that decision. This gives a feeling of the required control.
3. Avoid comparison with others
Parents often use sentences like ‘your friend succeeded in this, so you can also do it’ in trying to motivate their child. The problem with this is that you are only putting more pressure on your child because you are not addressing the core problem he or she is facing i.e. fear. Rather than identify why it will be great for him to try out something, just provide reassurance about his or her safety.
4. Do a recap of the event after success
Reviewing the whole event after success while reiterating your child’s fear will help in building up his courage. Identify the times he/she was afraid and point at the end result to show the venture was worthwhile at the end of the day. Ask your child how he or she felt they did. Praise him on parts that he did well. On parts that your child didn’t do well, ask them how they feel they can do better next time. If they are not sure, provide some suggestions.