“…Children who are encouraged to take reasonable, safe risks – with the guidance and support of their parents as they leave their comfort zone – tend to grow in confidence, are willing to make mistakes and use each failure as an education.”
Richard Asa quoting parenting experts in Chicago Tribune, January 1, 2012.

Recently we were asked our view of allowing kids to take “reasonable, safe risks.”  It’s been our experience that the kids who were encouraged to “leave their comfort zone” found that they were able to accomplish things they never imagined. “Safe risks” that stretch kids can definitely build confidence.

Our three sons grew up in a small country church and attended a high school of fewer than 500 students.  In both of those settings, they were able to take “safe risks” when it came to being involved in music and in athletics.  We encouraged their involvement and did our best to model it ourselves.

Beyond that, parents can take opportunities to share examples of bravery and initiative.  Show your kids examples of these attributes and dialog about safe risks and rewards.  Perhaps the biggest detriment to building confidence is to over-indulge or over-protect.  This parental behavior does not promote positive risk-taking.

When you’re considering these safe risks, look at your child’s personality.  What appeals to your child?  Remember your goal is to “stretch” your child and not to break them. For kids who are fearful or extremely cautious, keep the challenges non-threatening such as participating in a class activity or performance, not assuming the lead role.  For the daredevil child, provide more structure and limits.  Either way, encourage those reasonable, safe risks.

Do you have an example of a “safe risk” you encouraged?

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