Risky behaviour is something we usually associate with dangerous behaviours and harm. But not all risk-taking behaviours are bad and learning to take healthy risks is an important part of growth and development, especially as children approach the end of primary school and move into the teenage years.
Of course, our natural instinct is to protect our children, but we should provide them with the opportunity to take reasonable risks in order to prepare them for adulthood. Risk-taking allows your child to learn boundaries and learn about themselves.
Healthy risk-taking also:
Providing your child with opportunities to take risks teaches them about being responsible both for themselves and for other people. This is especially true when their risk-taking includes friends in a whole range of scenarios, including in imaginative play games. Children learn to take responsibility for the safety of themselves and others when they take reasonable risks such as tree climbing or playing with sticks.
Builds confidence and social skills
Trying new things often feels risky for children, especially the first time they do something. Every child is different so for some just talking to someone outside their circle of friends includes a huge risk. For others, the risk might be making friends with a new child at the park. Engaging in these types of risks builds confidence and also helps build social skills. With practice, these things become easier and your child will build more confidence as they go.
Social skills are also built as your child begins to recognise that their friends might have different opinions to them. Learning to voice opinions and listen and consider the opinions of others in assessing risk is an important skill to develop.
Helps with decision making and safety awareness
Every time your child decides to take a risk, they make a whole range of decisions including ones about their own safety. After the risk has been taken, they then evaluate the decision they made. Did things go to plan? Was it the best decision to make? Thinking about how to do things differently next time strengthens independent thinking skills and informs future risk-taking.
Taking risks can be scary but taking reasonable risks is part of life. Allowing your child to take healthy risks helps build confidence, responsibility, social skills, decision making and safety awareness. Learning these skills as a child helps set them up to make healthy choices as adults.