Childrearing

Introduce Kids To Controlled Danger … For Their Safety

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[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVxBKUTgI_A?fs=1] Well this is awesome. Frequent TED lecturer Gever Tulley is an advocate of teaching children about safety by exposing them to risk. This is also known as how parents raised children until the safety craze of recent decades. He says that experimenting with danger fosters creativity and, importantly, teaches problem solving. Admit it, everything you learned about knife safety happened in the kitchen, not by avoiding the kitchen, right? Hands-on learning is key to maturing in a dangerous world.

Yes, it’s our natural instinct to hover and protect our children against any harm. But unless — or even if — you plan on hovering over them until they die, it’s a bad strategy. So Tulley has a new book out this week called 50 Dangerous Things. The web site gives a sample:

#1 – Lick a 9-volt Battery

#6 – Drive a Nail
#7 – Drive a car
#10 – Play with the Vacuum Cleaner

#13 – Boil water in a plastic cup
#21 – Spend an hour blindfolded
#24 – Construct Your Own Flying Machine

#28 – Climb a tree
#34 – Deconstruct an appliance
#38 – Learn Tightrope Walking

#46 – Superglue Your Fingers Together

I have never used superglue without gluing my fingers together. Perhaps my parents should have exposed me to it more as a child. And as for 28, I’ll only caution you to keep in mind the age of the children. Last year at my oldest daughter’s playgroup co-op — a program for eight precious 3-year-olds monitored by alternating parents — I let the children climb a tree in the yard. Everything was going great. It was awesome. The children were really adventurous and just as I suggested that they might want to come back down, one little girl fell out of the tree. Thankfully, this was the girl whose mom taught yoga and whose dad is a professor and practitioner of dance. So when she fell out of the tree, she landed like a cat. And walked it off. But still, if it had been my daughter, we’d probably still be hearing a dramatic story about the time she fell out of the tree and had to go to the hospital for a concussion or whatever.

Anyway, if you’re looking for activities to get you and your kids through the summer without killing each other, you could probably do worse than introducing some controlled danger!