How do we develop a sense of adventure in our kids? For some of us it comes quite naturally, but for others it can be more of a struggle. We live in a culture that can be quite restrictive, and as a result our kids are less adventurous. They are not always so resilient when things don’t go to plan.
Brett Ryan from Focus On The Family says previous generations didn’t have those same constraints growing up. He believes we need to push our children out of their comfort zones in order to instill a spirit of adventure in them.
“It’s important that we encourage them its okay to fail,” says Brett. “It’s okay to make mistakes and not to be perfect. All those things build a sense of resilience to say when life doesn’t go to plan, I can still shake it off and bounce back.”
Brett thinks one of the best things we can do is role model getting out of our own comfort zones and exposing children to a level of appropriate risk. That means allowing them to do things like get dirty and climb trees. They learn their own capabilities and what they can and can’t do.
“Even if there is a negative outcome, they can still learn to be positive,” says Brett. “Because they can actually say, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I did get cold, or it was a bit of a shock and I was really nervous. But I got over it and I and I could do it.”
Brett believes this will help when life throws them a curve ball. They will be able to remember some of the things they did as kids, like jumping off the pier, going on a Ferris wheel or climbing a tree. They build resilience as they remember they can do uncomfortable things.
“We want them to have the ability to not just live in a very mundane world,” says Brett. “We need to encourage them to see life in its full. Ultimately that’s what God wants for us. If we protect them from too much, we are not preparing them for life.”
We need to look at ourselves and say, what are we creating? Are we creating self-sufficient young people, or are we inhibiting them in their development? A good tip is to role play. Ask them what they would do if they were at the shops and someone approached them.
This can be a great opportunity to give them some skills, and teach them the appropriate actions if they do feel unsafe. It’s also about actually learning to trust them. We need to maintain a calm exterior, even if that’s not what we’re feeling on the inside.
“We should tell them things like how mature and capable they are,” says Brett. “Raise the bar of expectation, because if you start feeling fearful they’re going to feel the same. They will start doubting themselves and then they won’t want to do it.”
Brett feels it’s important that our children don’t live in fear. They need to start taking ownership because the stronger they are in their values and beliefs, the more likely they will be to stand up for themselves. We don’t want them to conform to the patterns of this world.
“You don’t want your kids just to be under the wings of mum and dad,” says Brett. “We want them to be become independent, free thinkers that can actually be contributing to society. But at the same time, we have to be patient with them and show a lot of grace.”
“It takes a village to raise a child, and we need more people involved to look out for others who may not always have the ideal family dynamic. We all want to see our children thrive, not just survive, in every aspect of their lives.”