Just last week, I was invited by a local middle school to speak to 8th graders on the topic of risk. A fitting audience, since I consider the middle school years a important ‘crossroads’ where the idea of risk is heavily contemplated on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, the idea of risk has taken on a negative meaning in our culture today. Most children are warned that risk taking will lead to failure. Too many parents hover over their kids in hopes of preventing any kind of failure and limiting the opportunity for their children to take some needed risk.
Yet without risk, each of us are doomed to live a meager life, never to realize our incredible talents and limitless opportunities that exist inside of us. Risk provides us with the chance to test ourselves, to stretch our abilities and it offers a healthy platform from which we grow. Without the opportunity to take risk, we and our children severely limit our growth and potentially create an unhappy existence for ourselves.
All too often though, it is the fear of failure that gets in the way of parents allowing for risk. Which, if you think about it, is a huge problem in and of itself. You see, I believe the greatest lessons learned are the ones that come from failure and not success. Failure is an inevitable consequence of the human condition. In other words, we all fail. As parents, teaching our children to rise from failure is just as important as teaching them to be a gracious winner.
So let your kid take some reasonable risks. Here’s why:
1. Risk Taking Builds Confidence
Taking risks teaches that we can all achieve even when it’s a little scary. Confidence also comes when we fail and realize that we can get back up and do it again. Both the success and the failures of risks have the potential to build confidence and character in your kid.
2. We Learn From Risk
Learning about yourself sometimes comes from uncomfortable places. It is there that we are stretched, we face our fears and we persevere. Give your kids some opportunity to risk something, then talk about the results and what they learned about themselves.
3. Dreams and Risk Go Hand in Hand
Nothing in life worth having comes without risk. If you tell your kid to chase their dreams, they will have to be comfortable taking risks and you will need to allow them to do so. Understand that allowing your children to take small risks when they are young will empower them with an important tool they will use to chase down those big dreams.
A few days after my presentation at the middle school, I received a packet of letters from the kids I spoke to. The letters were filled with risks each kid wanted to take now. Some wanted to try out for the dance team, others to be part of a mission trip or join the volleyball team. Each hadn’t done so yet because of fear.
I am constantly amazed by the potential of our kids. They have so much to give and demonstrate. As parents, we must provide them with the tools to do so. Give your kid the chance to risk. In doing so, you will teach them that life opens up to more than they could imagine.
Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”
Well said Theodore.