Real life is about managing risk. Not avoiding it. Yet every day we all encounter people overcome with anxiety at the mere thought of making a mistake; being hurt; embarrassing themselves; or getting IT wrong. (Whatever IT is.) Maybe, we’re one of them.
Take last week, the Butterfly and I were at the supermarket and he was eating a grape or three . (It’s alright it was a pay for a bag situation – we weren’t stealing.) When we got to the check-out the perfectly lovely check-out operator stopped what she was doing, her jaw dropped, she couldn’t make eye-contact and then she made a classic Conscientious comment. “I hope there aren’t any seeds in that.” Her automatic panic-safety reaction had kicked in despite the risk being very small. It got me thinking about the effect of that kind of brain pattern on a person’s life. What don’t you achieve in life when you are constantly worried about safety?
My own Conscientious parenting streak is delivered a blow every day with our Hare. The first major incident happened when he was four and a half and needed to bike around the block. Alone. OMG, was my first reaction. Then my absolute conviction, that my ‘stuff’ should have as small an impact as possible on his life, kicked in. He went, gave himself a small fright and didn’t do so again for two years. He is now nearly nine and can be trusted to be away for about 20 minutes at a time (we had our two not coming home on time incidents about a year ago). Afterall, analysing a situation for it’s risk-reward potential is easy – if you’ve been allowed to take risks at your own pace when you’re young.
The best thing about letting children lead their risk taking is they end up being self-assured. This is different from so-called high self-esteem: it’s not in your face but more of a quiet, unintrusive, dignified state of being. As if they have a deep sense that, whatever happens, life is manageable.
(Should you find this article useful, Koha is accepted, $1 is fine. The button is under my blog-roll. :))