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10 Surprising Results When You Allow Kids To Do Dangerous Things

10 Surprising Results When You Allow Kids To Do Dangerous Things

When I was a kid, we did lots of scary and dangerous things! It was our way of exploring the world and getting to know how to negotiate it and come out alive. Here are my top ten favorite dangerous things, which have been inspired by my own experience and also having read Gever Tully’s book, 50 Dangerous Things (you should let your kids do).

Just in case you think I am totally irresponsible, let me make it clear that the most important lesson from all this is to let our kids experience the world safely. The goal is to let them gain competence, thus minimizing any risks.

1. I let my kids climb trees

Many parents forbid tree climbing. They say that you might fall and break a leg. But this is one of the most enjoyable experiences of childhood. Actually, my brother was a great tree climber at our school. I remember those large sycamore trees near the hockey pitch. But disaster struck one day. He fell and was knocked unconscious. Hospital, no bones broken, everything OK. The result was that tree climbing was banned forever at our school!

But that did not stop us. There was a hawthorn tree at the end of our garden and there were wonderful trees at our grandmother’s house in the country.

There are loads of advantages to tree climbing for kids. They learn co-ordination, they get exercise for many muscle groups and there is also a sense of achievement. They can learn how to balance and also judge the weight-bearing capacity of branches. They also learn about gravity and calculating jumps.

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2. I let my kids travel alone on the subway

Why do you think Lenore Skenazy was called the ‘world’s worst mom’? Because she allowed her nine-year-old kid to travel alone on the subway. She is the author of a book called Free Range Kids and she also hosts her own TV show, appropriately called World’s Worst Mom.

She feels strongly that our kids are safer and smarter than their parents think. She also says that crime rates are lower now than in the 70s but the fear ratio has skyrocketed because of media saturation.

Obviously, you need to teach a child about the risks of traveling alone and make sure they know what to do. This will very much depend on the age of the child, their character and where you live.

3. I let my child learn to walk alone

We are now plagued with ads for helmets for our children to wear when they learn to walk! The risk culture has got out of control. “The child must not fall!” But this is the essential part of the learning process. When a child learns to walk, she or he just needs parents to be there. Nothing else is necessary.

4. I let my kids play

Too many modern parents are overscheduling their kids. Learning yoga, piano and now even Mandarin are all squeezing out time for normal rough and tumble play with other kids. These activities are essential to learn about impulse control and turn taking, learning to lose graciously and so on.

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5. I let my kids play with scissors and knives

Modern parents lock away anything risky. I had a penknife when I was young, and yes, I did cut myself. Lesson learned. Learning to handle tools, knives and implements is helping kids master manual skills. If they are never allowed to touch them they will never get the chance to learn.

The best solution is not to lock them away immediately but let kids handle them under our supervision so that they can learn about the risks.

“Giving in to our own fears and taking over difficult or dangerous tasks sends them the message that they’re incapable of accomplishing these things on their own. Children pick up on these messages when they’re very young.” – Rosemary Strembicki

6. I let my kids take things apart

When we stored old appliances in the garage, I let my kids take them to pieces. Learning how to use screwdrivers, hammers and pliers is a great way to make kids more dextrous. The learning opportunities were also awesome because it created curiosity about how things work. It also encouraged them to help me fix things in the house. Now these things are never taught at school.

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” – Mark Twain

7. I let them mess around in the kitchen

Encouraging kids to cook will stand them in good stead in adult life. Good cooks are always popular and make friends easily. Yes, I know it all gets a bit messy, but look at all the advantages:

  • Build confidence and self-esteem
  • Boost motivation
  • Learn about food and what is nutritious and healthy
  • Increase awareness of risks associated with cookers, gas and other appliances
  • They are much more willing to try new food if they have prepared it themselves
  • They become involved in the shopping, planning, and cleaning up
  • Give them a break from computer games and TV
  • Great for bonding with parents.

8. I let my children fail

When I saw that my kids were screwing up, I didn’t intervene, not unless there was a safety issue or risk. I do not think this was bad parenting at all. On the contrary, it was an excellent way of letting them experience disappointment, frustration, resilience, and above all perseverance for the next time round. Many helicopter parents never let their kids experience these essential life lessons.

9. I let them light the fire

Don’t play with fire! Well, my kids did and Bear Grylls, the UK television adventurer, agrees with me. He would like things like fire lighting and other survival skills to be part of the school curriculum in the UK.

“You empower kids by teaching them how to do something dangerous, but how to do it safely.” – Bear Grylls

10. I let my kids play in the country

Many kids never get to see the countryside. They have never had any real contact with nature. Things like catching fish, tying knots, camping out and canoeing down a river–not forgetting rolling down a hill–are wonderful childhood activities. The National Trust in the UK has issued a list of 50 things kids can do before they are twelve years of age. Highly recommended.

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It seems that many children are overprotected and overscheduled. They are rarely allowed to try and solve problems, meet with setbacks and failure. These parents are sending a very disturbing message to their kids. They are beginning to understand that they cannot do anything for themselves because they are not allowed to and that the world is very dangerous. Call that good parenting?

Let your kids do some of the activities above. You will be pleasantly surprised, as I was.

Featured photo credit: Tree climbing/ Christina Xu via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on November 5, 2019

How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

Assuming the public school system didn’t crush your soul, learning is a great activity. It expands your viewpoint. It gives you new knowledge you can use to improve your life. It is important for your personal growth. Even if you discount the worldly benefits, the act of learning can be a source of enjoyment.

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” — Mark Twain

But in a busy world, it can often be hard to fit in time to learn anything that isn’t essential. The only things learned are those that need to be. Everything beyond that is considered frivolous. Even those who do appreciate the practice of lifelong learning, can find it difficult to make the effort.

Here are some tips for installing the habit of continuous learning:

1. Always Have a Book

It doesn’t matter if it takes you a year or a week to read a book. Always strive to have a book that you are reading through, and take it with you so you can read it when you have time.

Just by shaving off a few minutes in-between activities in my day I can read about a book per week. That’s at least fifty each year.

2. Keep a “To-Learn” List

We all have to-do lists. These are the tasks we need to accomplish. Try to also have a “to-learn” list. On it you can write ideas for new areas of study.

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Maybe you would like to take up a new language, learn a skill or read the collective works of Shakespeare. Whatever motivates you, write it down.

3. Get More Intellectual Friends

Start spending more time with people who think. Not just people who are smart, but people who actually invest much of their time in learning new skills. Their habits will rub off on you.

Even better, they will probably share some of their knowledge with you.

4. Guided Thinking

Albert Einstein once said,

“Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.”

Simply studying the wisdom of others isn’t enough, you have to think through ideas yourself. Spend time journaling, meditating or contemplating over ideas you have learned.

5. Put it Into Practice

Skill based learning is useless if it isn’t applied. Reading a book on C++ isn’t the same thing as writing a program. Studying painting isn’t the same as picking up a brush.

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If your knowledge can be applied, put it into practice.

In this information age, we’re all exposed to a lot of information, it’s important to re-learn how to learn so as to put the knowledge into practice.

6. Teach Others

You learn what you teach. If you have an outlet of communicating ideas to others, you are more likely to solidify that learning.

Start a blog, mentor someone or even discuss ideas with a friend.

7. Clean Your Input

Some forms of learning are easy to digest, but often lack substance.

I make a point of regularly cleaning out my feed reader for blogs I subscribe to. Great blogs can be a powerful source of new ideas. But every few months, I realize I’m collecting posts from blogs that I am simply skimming.

Every few months, purify your input to save time and focus on what counts.

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8. Learn in Groups

Lifelong learning doesn’t mean condemning yourself to a stack of dusty textbooks. Join organizations that teach skills.

Workshops and group learning events can make educating yourself a fun, social experience.

9. Unlearn Assumptions

You can’t add water to a full cup. I always try to maintain a distance away from any idea. Too many convictions simply mean too few paths for new ideas.

Actively seek out information that contradicts your worldview.

Our minds can’t be trusted, but this is what we can do about it to be wiser.

10. Find Jobs that Encourage Learning

Pick a career that encourages continual learning. If you are in a job that doesn’t have much intellectual freedom, consider switching to one that does.

Don’t spend forty hours of your week in a job that doesn’t challenge you.

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11. Start a Project

Set out to do something you don’t know how. Forced learning in this way can be fun and challenging.

If you don’t know anything about computers, try building one. If you consider yourself a horrible artist, try a painting.

12. Follow Your Intuition

Lifelong learning is like wandering through the wilderness. You can’t be sure what to expect and there isn’t always an end goal in mind.

Letting your intuition guide you can make self-education more enjoyable. Most of our lives have been broken down to completely logical decisions, that making choices on a whim has been stamped out.

13. The Morning Fifteen

Productive people always wake up early. Use the first fifteen minutes of your morning as a period for education.

If you find yourself too groggy, you might want to wait a short time. Just don’t put it off later in the day where urgent activities will push it out of the way.

14. Reap the Rewards

Learn information you can use. Understanding the basics of programming allows me to handle projects that other people would require outside help. Meeting a situation that makes use of your educational efforts can be a source of pride.

15. Make Learning a Priority

Few external forces are going to persuade you to learn. The desire has to come from within. Once you decide you want to make lifelong learning a habit, it is up to you to make it a priority in your life.

More About Continuous Learning

Featured photo credit: Paul Schafer via unsplash.com

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