All for risk taking, but...
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  1. #1
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    Default All for risk taking, but...

    Today we spent a good couple of hours in the forest by the lake. Lots of other families having a lovely time there too.

    One three/four year old walked past, her parents were a bit of a way behind her - fine if we were in an open field or something as she was within their sight, but she was walking along the edge of the pond (with a big drop) AND she was holding a dog's lead - quite a big (to her) dog on the end of it. The dog was very excited by the swans and their babies and could have easily caused her to fall in. It was DH who pointed it out, so it wasn't me just being over cautious.

    Anyway, not meaning to bash the family, but it did get me thinking about how we interpret 'risk taking'.

    A couple of days ago I was in the woods with DD and her friend - both 9. They were building bridges over a stream with logs/branches. Some a bit precarious, but they had fun crossing them. Lots of tree climbing too. All great stuff that I love and do regularly, but DD's friend was way more daring than DD and did cause me to gasp a couple of times. I let her get on with it though (mostly) thinking that she knew her own limits. Given their age, I also let them wander further in front of me (just out of sight) than I have done before - a big step for me!

    Yes, I know risk taking and education around risk taking is incredibly important, and great fun within limits.

    Are you totally comfortable with letting children take risks? Do you feel that you let them take more/fewer risks than other adults with children around you? Do/did you let your own children take more risks than mindees?

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    I have 3 Adult children and have been minding 20+ years. I find the older I get the more I don't like children taking risks. I think mainly because they are not my children, I can see what can happen if things went wrong. Generally i am becoming a whoosh (sic) with risk taking, I have butterflies when a 2 year old wobbles going up the slide steps.

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    Interesting thread Maza.
    Now, because of my previous life H&S is at the forefront of my mind constantly, my family despair sometimes...but it’s more around hygiene and holding ladders and wearing cycle helmets, having H&S thoughts that enable risk taking I call it.

    When it comes to adventure I encouraged it, with my own children and any I taught and minded. I would create a risk taking environment, with everyone knowing their own limitations and not pushed beyond. Climbing trees, river walking, rock climbing were all mentally assessed and encouraged if they were not putting themselves in danger big time.

    Friends of the children were always difficult though, some were really cautious because they were new to outdoor activities and I didn’t know how far to encourage or they were completely unaware of safety boundaries and madly proceeding with my heart doing constant flips.
    Luckily my boys chose friends that were well behaved and knew right and wrong...I think this is the key. Children who have no self discipline can be difficult to manage outdoors and you find yourself restricting their freedom as they are unpredictable which I think is the danger zone.
    Children need freedom and out of adult view time I think, that is when they develop independence and often take small risks ....but the adult round the corner is also needed, for support and encouragement.

    Each child is different though so you have to go with what you know and how far you feel you can trust them to make good decisions. Lots of problem solving helps here so they have the means to think for themselves and work out solutions on their own - not rely on an adult instruction. If they experience this indoors and in the garden they develop transferable skills and thinking skills to other situations.

    My neighbour would not let her lad out on his own to play with other children in the cul de sac or nearby field.....because she didn’t trust the big wide world and other adults, she trusted him...but felt he was a vulnerable prime target for the bad people in the world and wanted to ensure he was safe. I could see her point at times but I am not wired to think like this. She thought, I am sure that I let my lads take too many risks.
    They have all grown up safely but I used to think when my lads were out in the world when they were young adults that they would be able to keep them self safe in tricky situations. My neighbour went off to Uni, but came back within a few weeks as he found being away from home too difficult, he had never done even a school trip away because mum couldn’t bring herself to trust the teachers to keep him safe. He is a happy, successful well adjusted man now, as are my lads ....so who is to say what is the right way to go?

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    I’m a bit like Floradora, having spent years on the railways where risk and safety are a constant theme.

    With the children, i think I tend to take more conscious risks and fewer unconscious risks. I suspect a lot of parents do the reverse. (But I could just be fooling myself or being vain. )

    I mean I’m generally aware of risk and deal with it, whereas a lot of parents take risks because they just aren’t thinking. Mums are initially horrified that I let small children loose with sharp knives. But I do so based on a conscious judgement, with proper supervision and instruction. I’m Alamo aware that the consequences of never teaching them to use knives properly can be very bad indeed. OTOH, the same Mum is quite likely to take the unconscious risk of leaving a sharp knife momentarily within reach of little fingers when distracted by a knock at the door.

    People often take risks around children based on their own convenience. Leaving a child in a car whilst popping into a shop is probably the one most frequently cited. Or they take risks because group situations lull them into a false sense of security. Children often stroll into hazardous situations at toddler group or soft play because there are so many adults around, they all make the same false assumption: "someone must be watching them."

    It’s a bit weird as a CM because we don’t just have to balance risk against benefits/outcomes. We also have to balance everyone else’s opinions. What will Ofsted think? Will mum do her nut when she finds out her Dear Darling Buttercup was allowed on the climbing frame? That's before we even get started on the plentiful supply of playground gossips, not forgetting 'Mrs. N. Parker' the village busybody.

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    Btw, the dog/child/water hazard that Maza cites is something I see quite often by the canal.

    I think people seem to have blinkers on when it come to their pets, their children, and their driving. This seems to make them over confident, blind to dangers, and extremely defensive (or even aggressive) when challenged.

    There seems to be something verging on the primeval hunter-gatherer about the owner-animal relationship that says, "I am so skilled in my mastery of animals that my dog would never follow its instinct to drag my child into the water." But it happens, because animals are instinctive and unpredictable.

    In fact, this is probably the one area where I ensure children take fewer risks than the average. I have some who only ever see "the cute, fluffy puppy" who wouldn’t hurt anyone, so they want to run up to every strange flea farm they see and start petting the thing. But every dog that ever set upon a child was one that "wouldn’t hurt anyone" until it happened. I tend to see a predator that is highly evolved and perfectly adapted to eat a child if only it could be bothered.

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