For our children, sensible risk is beneficial – danger is not

American Counseling Association

        As parents, a common goal is to protect our children as much as possible. We don’t want to see our kids hurt physically, emotionally or psychologically. And yet, most of us realize that such a goal is virtually impossible to achieve.
        While it’s relatively easy to try to keep our children from some physical harm through actions like making them buckle up every time they’re in the car, making sure they have the necessary vaccinations, and keeping a regular schedule of doctor and dentist visits, kids are sometimes still going to get hurt just because they’re kids. Climbing that tree probably seemed like a good idea, just like sledding down that steep hill looked perfectly safe and riding that mountain bike off that jump looked like it would be nothing but a fun experience.
        The reality is that kids often aren’t able to see the danger in certain activities with the same clarity that parents can. Yet, despite our parental fears, it actually is a good thing for our kids to learn to take some risks, even if they fail at them sometimes. The intention for parents should be to help educate their child on the differences between danger and risk.
        While climbing a tree will often look dangerous to a parent, a child will only see the challenge. But if the child has not been taught on safe ways to climb that tree, what height limits are okay and similar information, it can indeed be a perilous activity.
        Offering instruction on how to minimize danger and enjoy the benefits and thrills that overcoming risk can offer, can help children develop in a healthy way. Children are very sensitive to things that are bothering or worrying their parents, and if a parent is communicating constantly the need to be careful or to avoid most situations or activities, it only heightens a child’s fears and feelings of insecurity.
        But when parents encourage sensible risk and helps teach kids how to approach and conquer such risk, they are helping their children grow and feel more secure, confident and successful.
        We all want our children’s world to contain as little danger as possible, but encouraging children to take on some risk and teaching them to do it in safe ways is essential to helping them develop into strong, secure adults.
        “Counseling Corner” is provided by the American Counseling Association. Comments and questions to or visit the ACA website at


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