Is it alright for a kid to hurt themselves? It can be really hard as an adult who is charged with taking care of a child, especially if it’s your own, to not worry about all the dangers our young people face in their day to day lives. These days schoolyards have rules against climbing on playgrounds, parks have fences around trees so that kids don’t climb them, and children are encouraged not to run in case they trip. Have we gone too far in “bubble-wrapping” everyone to ensure they don’t get hurt?
Of course, it’s very important that we create a safe space for young people to learn and enjoy themselves, but this doesn’t have to involve completely eliminating all risk. It’s a valuable experience for children to learn from their mistakes. It’s up to us as adults to create an environment wherein the risk of major injury is limited and to guide kids to make smart decisions. After that, we should be allowing children to explore, make mistakes and yes, hurt themselves.
When this eventually happens respond with care and affection. Initially, the child doesn’t need to be given “I told you so”, that can wait. If the injury is not severe, use strategies such as humour to calm them down and remind them that they are alright. Finally, ask them “what have we learnt here?”
Today I believe the bigger risk is what is going on inside the confines of the home. Screen time poses a much bigger risk than falling out of a tree. The benefits of allowing young people to play outside are worth the risk of a broken bone. So, let kids hurt themselves, within reason, and use this as an opportunity for them to learn.
Want to learn more? Book an appointment with one of our psychologists or visit our clinic and wellbeing store in Bulimba.