Parenting, especially now, provides plenty of excitement, but it comes with a certain set of challenges. With years of outdoor playtime ahead, one of those challenges is ensuring safety while still promoting an adventurous spirit.
A child’s ability to push through, endure struggle, fail and try again can help encourage long-term success and happiness. Many parents feel pressure to be overprotective and prevent their kids from any bumps and scrapes along the road of life.
Jessie Graff, Hollywood stuntwoman and a breakout star of NBC’s American Ninja Warrior, recommends these “tough love” tips that encourage parents to overcome their fears, take a step back and let their kids build resiliency and mental toughness by taking reasonable risks.
“As a child, my parents supported me when I wanted to push myself and take some physical risks,” Graff said. “That led to plenty of scrapes and bruises, but ultimately helped me build confidence and mental toughness while I honed my physical skills. That freedom is what helped me accomplish my dreams.”
1. Teach Them How to Fall: When kids know how to fall safely, they have the freedom and confidence to try almost anything. Additionally, it can help reinforce your confidence as a parent that your little ones are watching out for themselves.
2. Every Fall is a Lesson: After a fall, your first instinct as a parent likely is to run over and coddle your kids. Instead, congratulate them on the risk they took and work on building their mental and physical toughness by reminding them everyone falls and persistence makes them heroic.
3. Train to Treat a Scratch: Instead of “fixing boo-boos,” use every scrape as a lesson on caring for broken skin. One way to promote that healthy way of thinking is with waterproof bandages, which have staying power and provide a four-sided seal, protecting against water, dirt and germs.
4. Teach Risk Evaluation: Help instill and build the skill of risk evaluation in your kids. Then you’ll be able to trust them – and they’ll trust themselves – to make decisions on their own.
5. Building Confidence for Both of You: It takes time for kids to be daring on their own, but building trust and confidence in them can be done through practice. Start with small risks, then slowly build in fun, new challenges. This allows them to master risks with you by their side, which makes trusting them to handle it on their own a natural next step.