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Letting Go…Taking Smart Risks
Watching your preschooler’s face as he or she figures out something for the first time, or puts two ideas together to create a third, is priceless. Kids ages 3 to 6 are eager to show their independence by seeking new information and opportunities to learn about themselves and the world around them. Parents might hesitate at the thought of letting go, but it’s important to know when and how to let go safely. Children learn through investigating their environments by watching, listening, and then imitating. They learn best when they are happy and when they feel safe.
How children approach new experiences depends on their temperament and, to an extent, their prior experiences. Some children embrace new experiences with enthusiasm and are natural risk-takers and may need to occasionally be reined in for their own safety. Other children are cautious or resist anything new and are naturally shy. The willingness to explore and feed their curiosity may depend on the child’s maturity and natural anxieties about trying new things. Helping children overcome these fears and anxieties will go a long way in boosting their self-confidence and widening their outlook on the world. Helping children take safe risks while they are young increases their capacity to trust themselves to make independent, appropriate judgments and decisions.
Encouraging Smart Risk-Taking
Shyness can be due to fear, stress, and anxiety. Almost all preschoolers show some shyness in new situations or with new people. It is normal if you child often acts shy during the first few minutes of a new situation. However, some children simply have more difficulty moving into new places or social groups. It is important to allow shy children time to set their own pace, rather than trying to push them past their comfort zone. Usually, a little extra time and familiarity with the individuals and the environment will help them emerge and participate fully. This is where you, as parents, can be proactive. Shyness decreases with practice. Here are some tips to remember:
Although it is necessary to set rules about key issues, it is equally important to honor children’s choices, support and recognize the many small tasks achieved daily. Setting a safe environment is vital for young learners to continue to explore their world in order to gain self-confidence for a healthy, independent life.
Family Activity: Taking Chances
Educator Activity: Taking Smart Risks
Quiz for Parents: Should I Risk It?
American Academy of Pediatrics
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides numerous links to guide parents to resources about how children develop healthy habits and behaviors that will influence their life-long health.
“Developing Your Child’s Self-Esteem” describes the importance of allowing children to try even if they fail in order to help them develop positive, healthy self-perceptions.
“Encouraging a Shy Preschooler to Participate” provides helpful suggestions for engaging shy children to help them open up to new experiences.
Women’s and Children’s Health Network
Updated on 1/16/2013