10 Chancy Things Kids Should Be Allowed to Do

   What’s a big life without risk? True, you can get bumped and bruised, confused and lost, but what’s the alternative? A safe life where you end up, well, safe. No risk, no lessons, no heady joy of danger met and countered, and these are the hallmarks of an abundant life.

Parents are understandably reluctant to throw their children into situations that are possibly beyond their capabilities. They could get hurt, and isn’t that our job, to see that these little forces of nature survive into adulthood? I am here to argue (with others) that it is also our job to provide opportunities to risk and learn, to develop self-evaluating skills where they wrestle with what they did, how they did it, and where it got them. This skill is a self-correcting system that can power a child through failure, disappointment, and frustration. In a word, resiliency. When kids are in control of a challenge, particularly a physical challenge, they are apt to fight defeat because it is understood that they were entrusted with a gamble on their competency. It is both parent and child testing an emerging independence.

Here are 10 risky things I allowed my children to do when they were young, sometimes very young. And they all survived intact into adulthood with a keen sense of adventure, confidence and all 10 fingers. Pick and choose the things you feel comfortable with. After a brief talk on safety, look the other way:

1. Use a pocketknife to whittle a stick. Our kids had pocketknives at 5 years old and were drilled in safe practices. Before they could use it, they had to demonstrate they knew how to use it properly
IFTE-NB-0017872. Burn paper with a magnifying glass. Remember this from your own childhood? Have them do it on a fireproof surface like concrete or gravel. Focus the sun through the lens onto a piece of paper, or a leaf. Keep the magnifying glass in a safe place where your child has to ask for it
3. Use real tools on a scrap wood and wire project—a hammer, screwdriver, pliers, wire snips, nails, screws
4. Help build a fire while camping, at the beach, or in a fireplace. If you are brave, let them help chop kindling. Show them start to finish allowing them to do most of the work, and striking the match to light it
5. Take apart old appliances–home telephones, egg beaters, coffee grinders, fans, etc. with real tools to see how they work
6. Smash a coin on a railroad track. Lay a coin on a stretch of railroad track with your child and wait for a train to press it into something else. See what happens if you put different coins on top of one another
7. Climb a tree. Do not help. Our rule was you could climb as high as you wanted but you would get no boosts, lifts OR help down! The whole process had to be done on their ownIMG_1736
8. Use a roofing nails or metal bottle caps and a hammer and pound them into a log end, a sturdy piece of wood, or a large wood block
9. Sleep in an appliance box in the backyard
10. Make up a batch of pancakes solo, pour the batter into a hot pan and flip them

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