Dad, I've Changed My Middle Name To Danger!

Recently Zane's 4 year old son, after trying to suck up 2 litres of milk with vacuum cleaner, told him that he's changing his middle name to Danger, because he always seems to be doing some dangerous stuff. And apparently quite likes first aid kits.

What we are really talking about is teaching kids how to manage risks rather than wrap them up in cotton wool. How much do we protect them and keep them safe? How much do we let them figure out from trial and error? And does protecting them and keeping them safe now, make them unsafe or risky at a later age?

So what are some things we can do to help kids learn about risks?

Sit them down in a classroom and talk about all the risky stuff that has been banned? How are they going to personally know its risky? It's proven that kids learn from experience, just telling them that something is unsafe or dangerous is not enough for them to learn.

Kids need to experience risk

They need to experience the risk so they understand why it's dangerous. So instead of just talking, we should let them do some risky stuff in a controlled way.

Let them climb trees! If you are worried about it then maybe designate a tree climbing tree, one that you know is big and strong. Put some markers on the tree for where they can and can't go, and for where they can't, actually explain why, that the branches are too weak, maybe even demonstrate one snapping (Be careful or manage the risk when you do this).

When they are in an accident and get hurt, first of all make sure they are ok, that nothing is broken, and give them some first aid if needed. Then talk to them about what they were doing and get them to say what went wrong and think about what they could do so it doesn't happen again.

Let kids learn form their experiences

Thats right let them, and help them learn from their experiences. Wait, so don't go banning something if someone gets injured? Maybe ban it or fix it if lots of kids are always getting injured and no one is learning from it. But if it is something that every kid should be able to do like ride a scooter, climb trees, or play sport - don't go banning it, instead encourage it and educate them on how to do it safely.

This way when they become teenagers and adults and start driving and working they already know that things can be risky and know how to look for risks. If a kid is wrapped up too much in cotton wool, when they become an adult and get given the keys to a car or start working in an industry that has a lot of risks, the cotton wool is pulled off them and they are likely to get hurt. And crashing a car is very different to falling off a kids scooter.

So pull the cotton wool off now and encourage them to climb a tree or do things that are a little bit risky so they can learn how to manage the risks they face and make better and safer decisions.

See you next week on Workshop Wednesday!

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