Taking risks means trying new things and learning as you go along.
But taking risks is never easy, when we hear the word alone negativity takes over us and the uncertainty breeds fear.
It requires a certain amount vulnerability; you're putting yourself out there.
There's also a level of resiliency, the ability to get back up in the face of adversity, see it as a learning curve and try again.
And then there's TRUST.
It's hard to ignore the mixed messages we send kids on a daily basis...Take more risks! Don't take the risk!
Truth be told, children and youth should be given the opportunity to take the appropriate risk in order to practice and properly develop the necessary risk-assessment skills needed throughout their life.
Take for example during a typical day at school, we encourage students to take academic risks, emotional and intellectual risks. But are we creating a safe environment to do so?
Here's an example, for those students we've unduly labeled as the 'quiet' ones, we ask that they make every attempt to actively participate in group and class discussions, easier said than done, right?! We administer tests, assessments, evaluations and quizzes all in an effort to measure student performance and intelligence throughout the school year. All quite nerve wracking.
And for most these are met with either a failing grade or snickers and whispers amongst peers.
Is this the reward for risk taking? It's as though we set them up for failure.
So how can we create safe spaces for children to take risk both at home and school?
- Make it VERY clear that all efforts will not go unnoticed, no matter how small.
- Recognize these as part of the process. Every effort leads to improvement.
- Model risk taking behavior yourself, be willing to try something new and be willing to fail.
And guide them...while you applaud all efforts; the big and the small, make it clear that you have all confidence in their ability to achieve mastery, be there to guide them should they falter and celebrate the courage it takes them to take these risks.