Challenge Accepted: 3 Strategies for Helping Kids Take Risks

Family Bonding

The most successful people are the ones who took risks. They’re the ones who believed in doing something, followed their gut, and never entertained the defeatist voices from within and from others. It’s a valuable asset that many parents hope to instill in their children. If you’re one of those parents, start them young on the value of risk-taking. Here are a few ways to train them:

Acknowledge feelings, but offer a new perspective.

Taking risks is scary, precisely because it’s a territory of the unknown. Learning how to bike, for instance, could get your child uneasy because of the fear of not being able to balance or crashing and hurting themselves. During these moments, don’t dismiss their emotions, but try to shift their focus on other things.

For example, you can say, “Hey, I see that you’re nervous, and that’s okay. But I’ll be holding your bike seat to keep you safe.” What you’re doing is you’re acknowledging the anxiety, but you’re offering them a new way of interpreting that anxiety.

Stop yourself from forcing, but don’t give up.

Forcing children to do something they don’t want to do will just end in shouting and throwing tantrums. They might grow an aversion to what you’re suggesting them to try. To avoid that, don’t force it. Instead, go with their pace or offer a relatively “easier risk.”

For instance, taking the biking example above, if your child doesn’t want to ride on their own, then probably, you can take them on a family bike or have trainer wheels installed. The bottom line is don’t make them do what they don’t want to do, but try to suggest other easier-to-take risks.

Give them a sense of control.

One of the reasons people don’t want to take risks is because they feel helpless. If you could give your child a sense of control, then they’re more likely to take it. You can do that by offering them choices. For instance, ask them where they prefer to train or at which point they want you to let go of the bike seat. Give them these little decisions so they will have a sense of being on top of things.

Raise your child to be risk-takers in this world of too many downers. Apply these tips on your next bonding activity.