Risks are of many types. Some are social – for example, inviting someone on a date for the first time; and some are emotional, such as talking about fears. The risks that most concern parents are usually those that might cause physical harm. Sometimes young people do dangerous things deliberately; sometimes they just don’t see the risks.
One of the important things parents do is to help young people learn to manage and judge risk. As parents, you need to judge what risks are acceptable and make sure your young person has the necessary skills to avoid danger. Parents who encourage independence and allow a manageable element of risk are showing optimism and confidence in their child.
Decisions about risk crop up all the time – your child wants to go to the milk bar alone, go to a party where you don’t know the parents, or cook something on the gas. Ask yourself:
- Does he/she have the necessary skills?
- Can I trust him/her to follow the rules?
- What are the likely risks, including risks to others?
- Are there dangers outside his or her control?
- What would make it safe?
It may be tempting to put physical safety above all else, but saying ‘no’ too often can have a cost. Kids lose confidence, or rebel, or simply miss out.