Why Is Allowing Children To Take Risks Important?
How many times do you find yourselves saying “Stop…….” “Be Careful” without really thinking about why you may be saying it. Think about what else you could say in those situations. Obviously working within childcare involves us having a responsibility of firstly and most importantly keeping children safe, especially with the under two’s. I mean they come with a health care warning of their own anyway, however, there is a massive difference between putting children at risk and allowing them to take a risk. Can we be too cautious with these small children and end up preventing them from having the necessary experiences required in order to have the ability to solve problems and risk assess situations for themselves? Young children are taking risks every day, if they didn’t they wouldn’t develop new skills such as crawling, walking, running. Each of these, at the time of learning them hold their own risks but are necessary life skills to learn and develop. Why should we limit these experiences to our own interpretation of what is a risk or what is necessary for young children? How about allowing these children to demonstrate what capable learners they truly are – allow yourselves to follow their lead and learn from them, alongside them.
A massive risk for me is to fly but if I wasn’t encouraged to take that risk I never would have got on an aeroplane and been able to explore India giving me the best experience of my life. It is the same with children albeit on a slightly different scale - there are children that might be too scared to go outside, or leave their parents, eat dinner, play alongside other children, get messy or even step foot inside the nursery building. Think about the experiences they would be missing if we did not foster an ethos of support and encouragement for those children. Don’t forget that risk is not just limited to physical risks it can include emotional risks such as children leaving their parents, social risks such as mixing with other children or communication risks when children cannot use language or find their voice to say what they want or need. For adults, one risk most of us take at some point in our lives is falling in love – what if I get hurt? But what if you don’t? How do you know unless you try it?
I’m sure you can start to see how important the adult role is, before moving on have a think about that all important adult role? Think back to the questions at the start? Reflect on your current practice? Can you adapt the way you work to allow your younger children more opportunities to shine?
Would you say that all risks are bad? Do you think children see an experience as ‘bad’? For sure, there are some risks that are bad for young children and that is why it is essential for each potential hazard and experience is risk assessed to ascertain if the risk is manageable, achievable and safe. What we don’t want to be doing is allowing children to access risks that are a step too far, failing a challenge is a risk in itself and we don’t want to be setting children up to fail, nor do we want them to come to any harm. However, we also want to allow them to progress at their full potential and demonstrate their capabilities. Therefore, it is important to recognise that everybody has a different level and tolerance to risk and that is personal to each and everyone of us.