Today we are discussing Chapter 4: Bubble Wrapping Not Required. Mike Huber is our guest content expert this week to provide insight and lead our discussion. You can access Mike’s blog or learn more about his books at RedLeaf Press and RedLeaf Lane. Find him on Facebook at Mike Huber’s Children’s books. If you are just joining us, you will find all the book study details HERE.
Bubble Wrapping Not Required depicts the absurdity of our society’s fear of risk. Pica focuses on parents’ fears of anything negative happening to their children. I’d like to think about parents’ hopes for their children. We want children to be resilient. Resilience requires taking risks. We want children to be joyful. Nothing beats the joy of successfully taking a risk. Risk is a part of being alive and children need to know how to deal with risk.
But it’s not risk alone. Resilience comes both from risk and persistence. You have to try and you have to fail. The risk might be physical. It might be emotional. We know that children will get hurt. We know they will cry. Our job isn’t to keep them from falling. It’s to help them up and hug them when they do fall.
Let’s be clear that risk is different than hazard. Risk is something that a child can see and assess such as climbing high. Each time a child reaches higher, she can look down and decide if she has reached her limit. Once she has reached her limit, she can climb down. Next time, she will probably go a little higher, but she will be the one to decide.
A hazard is something a child cannot see or assess. For example, if there is a slide on a playground, the child will assume she can go down it. She will not notice if the slide has a gap that could catch the drawstring from her sweatshirt and asphyxiate her. Adults need to minimize hazards as much as possible and minimize risk as much as necessary.
While our first impulse as adults may be to protect children, we need to look at the big picture. Children are ultimately safer when they learn to assess risk themselves. For example, open bodies of water pose a risk for drowning. We could make sure children don’t have access to water, and as long as they are in our watch, they would not risk drowning. But the day they find themselves by a lake or river without us, are they safer? It is much better to first expose them to shallow bodies of water where they can have fun and then teach them how to swim as they get older. The same is true for other risks. It is better to climb a tree and get a few scrapes than it is to not climb at all.
Children need to challenge themselves when they take risks. It is important to let children climb on their own so they can assess the risk they are ready for. If an adult puts a child up in a tree, the child has no control over the situation. Children also need to use their body to back out of a situation they decide is too much for them. If a child climbs and gets stuck, the adult should verbally help them down. Reassure the child that you are nearby and talk through the steps the child can take to get down. Only help them physically if falling is imminent.
As a teacher, you can help children learn to assess risk as they play. If a child does something that seems risky, don’t stop them right away. Instead move closer and see if the risk is reasonable. If you are not sure, you can ask the child for their assessment (“What’s your plan?” “Are there any sharp corners you need to worry about?”).
You can also do a risk-benefit analysis. Decide what the risks are as well as the benefits. If the risk is reasonable and there are benefits, just stay nearby and watch for changes in the situation. If the risk seems too great, decide if there are any changes that would make it safer while still allowing the child to get their needs met. If a tree branch seems weak, is there another branch (or another tree) that is safer?
It is important to keep in mind that playing, even risky play, is relatively safe. There was a study in the UK that found that the sport of badminton results in twice as many injuries than playing on playgrounds. Most other sports resulted in even more injuries. There are benefits to engaging in sports, of course, so the benefits outweigh the risk, so why not playgrounds? And tree climbing didn’t even make it on the chart!
One of the most dangerous things for a child to do is ride in a car, but we have agreed as a society that it is worth the risk. Children end up in the emergency room for falls 20 times the number for non-fatal car accidents. However, it is extremely rare for a child to die from a fall. Children under the age of 5 are more than 10 times more likely to die in a car accident than from a fall. Children 5-9 are more than 80 times as likely. In other words, children may get hurt, but almost all will be minor injuries. Meanwhile, children learn how to deal with risk and ultimately stay safer.
Getting out of bed exposes you to countless risks. But if you stay in bed, you risk letting life pass you by. Just watch how children run to greet the day, ready for anything. It may be risky, but it is joyful. Maybe instead of trying to make the children more like us, we need to be more like them.
- What are the most joyful moments of your childhood? Was there risk involved?
- Can you remember taking a risk that didn’t work out for you? Do you think you benefited from this failure in the long run?
- Has a child ever surprised you with their abilities? Was your first impulse to stop them from trying?
- Think of a time you watched a child take a risk. What was your first impulse? What did they gain from the experience? What did you gain?
Please share/retweet this post! Let us know that you’re participating in this study. We’d love to hear from you about your thoughts regarding Chapter 4 and about the Thought Questions that Mike has provided. Your voice matters – participate in the dialogue and share your ideas here! (Comment below) If you’ve chosen to blog about what you’ve read on your own site, link back and share your post with us here. Perhaps you have a burning question about something that you read in one of these chapters… we have a feature for that – Ask The Author! That’s right, Rae Pica will be available throughout this live study to answer your questions. #AskAuthor
What to read next: Chapter 6- Teaching Girls They’re More Than a Pretty Face (9/21/15).
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I loved climbing trees as a child, I was so free!
Failure is not a bad thing it made me always try harder the next time(three tries at drivers license)!
The kids climbing up the ladder to slide when they are under two years old is soo scary.
But the smiles they get when doing so are great!
I see this all the time as a home daycare provider. I see kids 4 and 5 years old being carried into the house. I will see parents running after things thher middle and high schoolers forgot at home. No matter if homework, lunch or just a cell phone they could live without for 8 hours.
My little ones I let them experiment. They may fall and get hurt, but I don’t necessarily get up and run to them. I will tell them they are ok, rub your hands and knees off to get rid of hurt.lots of times they just need that distraction. The preschoolers fall off the swing, I don’t run out right away. I give few minutes to cry and then tell them again your okay. I by no means neglect them. Learning through play.
Growing up, we were out in the summer right after breakfast home for lunch. Either playing with neighborhood friends or at the towns pool. Parents bought a summer pass and that is what you did. After supper out again and stayed out till the curfew whistle blew. We had jobs as soon as we could and we’re held responsible. Walked to school, even in winter.
Kids need to learn independence so they can learn to function and as parents realize they are teachable moments. If they can’t stand on their own 2 feet in the world how will they ever be abe reinstall kids who making it harder.
I LOVED this chapter. I grew up with two younger brothers. I climbed more trees than they did. I would take chapter books up into trees on my family’s farm and read for hours. I now (so far) have a daughter and a son. I carry the same philosophy that Rae Pica and Mike Huber attest to. I want my kids to try new things, be brave, test their physical limits (within reason), get dirty, climb trees and splash in mud puddles. I have the same “what if” thoughts as any other parent has about situations that could happen with my children. The thoughts and fears could send you into a tail spin and cause you to spend a fortune on bubble wrap. You could also turn the “what if’s” around and ask yourself what the outcome will be when they succeed and conquer a fear or a risk. You’ll get to be the one they run to with all that excitement. You’ll get to be the one to celebrate the victory too.
Week 3 – 7/20/18
Reading – chapter 4
One of the most joyful memories of my childhood was playing in the barn, especially the loft. There were risks involved, climbing the goofy ladder, random old things in the barn itself, and of course the giant open window. I also loved biking as a child and would bike “around the block” in the country that was a mile long ride. I remember the first time I took it as a young child alone, and wondered if I’d be able to make it all the way back myself.
My sisters and I tried to build our own tree fort as young girls. We collected wood and nails and started with the “stairs” we never made it far but knowing when we needed to ask for help was a growing experience for all of us.
My children surprise me daily on what they are able to do. I have always had more of a “hands off to play” parenting method. (Knowing they grow through failures) I don’t help my children climb a ladder to the slide knowing the general concept that if they can get up they can most likely get down themselves. I have seen far to many parents/other adults at the park looking at me like I’m crazy because I allow my very small 3 year old to keep up with my almost 10 year old while only supervising and talking him through things. I actually only have an impulse to ask other children (not my own) to stop because I don’t want them hurt under my watch. (Especially when I know their parents are overly cautious.)
I watch a couple little boys regularly and they aren’t the most coordinated dudes but have learned so much being in my care with my style of supervision. If you want to do it you have to yourself. The older boy spent 6 months wanting to go down the slide but didn’t trust himself to climb the ladder. (Mom took him up the ladder down the slide at my home a handful of times so he expected me to do so also.) Every day he would ask for help and I would tell him “you can do it, give it a try”. The day he finally got past the first step I was terrified, I didn’t think I would be able to let him step further. Thankfully I was able to restrain my cautions and encourage him. He of course made it and now uses it regularly. He also is more likely to try new things at my house now then he was before. I’m still a bit of a nervous wreck when he tries “risky” things knowing I would have to explain any mishaps to Mom but I have learned, as he has, he is capable of so much.
I love this chapter, to wrap them in a bubble is to not let the children take risks, it is to make the children not make their own decisions, self-protection in a certain sense brings long-term problems. Children as well as adults need to face our own risks and problems, which they find simple solutions, such as wanting to climb a tree, get off a swing without the help of parents, or get up and get up by itself To develop ways to solve problems and conflicts successfully, we must challenge them to know the level of risk to which they are prepared. Parents must teach them to face each obstacle to find solutions, not solve problems. Children should explore and parents be there to guide them, encourage them with motivation and not drown them with overprotection. Let the children experience in all the senses and that each moment lived is a way in which they can learn.
One of the most important things as caregivers/guardians of young children is learning when to open the door wider to more experiences and allow for growth. Allowing each child opportunity to experience everything they want when they are developmental ready.
I understand to a certain extend protecting your child and wanting what is best for them; especially when we live in a world like we do today. However, I also think it is important to keep in mind the influential needs of a child learning cause and effect on their own.
I always loved taking some risks, especially in nature, when I was a child. It was a very fun part of my childhood memories. As a preschool teacher I am very conflicted on this subject at school. When it comes to other peoples children it is hard for me to let them take risks where they could hurt themselves because I know that I will be the one explaining to their parents why I did not stop them when I saw them taking the risk. I also work with different ages 2 and a half to 5 years old. I would allow the older preschoolers to take more risks but at the same time if the younger ones see the older kids taking a physical risk on the playground they will try to replicate it and could hurt themselves. It is a fine line we walk with other peoples children.
Risk! Is word being not one people like to use around young children. I think some people mistake safe adult supervised risk for lazy supervision. This is what I mean: I have a 11-month old that is able to climb up our slanted stairs on the playground. Now I did not just push her to do it. I just continued to spot her each time we were outside as she continuing to take the risk of getting up to the top of the playground. Now she can safely get to the playground and she is starting to learn her own limits. I have so many more stories I could share since I run our family and daycare on the idea that I will not discourage any task based on age because some children are ready earlier or later. Letting them figure out their own risks and bodies also helps me feel safer outside with all these children in my care because I know they are doing tasks and skills that they feel safe about doing.
We need to let children take more risks instead of trying to bubble wrap or over protect them. Risk taking develops children into good problem solvers who can function in life well.
This chapter was really important for me to read. I truly believe that children need to take risks and need to fail. I believe that to FAIL is the First Attempt In Learning! As a mother I had to allow my boys to take risks to gain confidence in this very fast paced world we live in. I did worry each time I allowed them to go out on their own.
The media does put fear in people. There is so much negativity. A friend of mine who is a police officer told me that most kids that are abducted are kidnapped by a family member.
My mom was and is a bubble-wrap mom. I didn’t learn how to light a match until I was in college. I love my mom, she is one of my best friends, however she completely and totally believes in protecting children from all risk and danger. She meant well but I agree that she didn’t really help prepare me for the real world.
I believe children should be allowed to take risks and make mistakes. It is our job as caregivers and parents to be there when the risks and mistakes turn too big for the child to handle or if they get seriously injured. It’s as if the children are on a tight rope and we are the net under them. They are able to take risks but we will always be there to catch them.
I liked the quote “children are meant to be risk-takers,” but running my own childcare business out of my home I have found I have to limit the risks that may cause physical harm to a child. I do want the kids to be kids and enjoy nature and climbing but I still need them to be safe while in my care. When I first opened my childcare business I found myself repeating “be careful” ALL THE TIME! Then I realized, do kids even know what I mean? So I changed my wording to what I WANT them to do, such as “Hold on with your hands” or “use your feet to climb.” This has helped the kids know what to work on and I know they are trying to be safe at daycare. Safety is my number one concern with my in home childcare business so any little things to help improve this and give kiddos the power to change their behaviors makes me happy 🙂 I am also working on sharing this language with parents/guardians to use at home. I believe this gives kiddos power to keep exploring and be a kid, while still being safe while in my care. I do want to help kiddos take risks during play as much as I can, so they can build up their resilience that they will need as they grow up. It is hard seeing kiddos frustrated when they can’t get something or their tower keeps falling down, but the JOY and HAPPINESS they have when they do get it is totally worth the struggle they had.
Each chapter nails it! I don’t think its just parents that are bubble wrapping kids these days. Licensing rules are making it harder for home daycare providers to “let children” be kids and take risk. We have to be with in slight of every child all day long..you need an open floor plan to do that, and to never go to the bathroom.
I agree that “bubble wrapping” children makes the children less resilient and they tend to not strive for goals. But those who push not “bubble wrapping” need to understand that it isn’t always up to the teacher to decide what is okay and what isn’t, most rules and policies are the center’s. I am some times reluctant to let children participate in risk factors because even though I do my best to be there in case something does happen, I worry about the person who is my subordinate thinking it is okay to allow this and not be as observant.
In a childcare setting it’s challenging to find the appropriate line between allowing them to test themselves, taking some risks and also making sure everyone is safe.
I remember playing outside unsupervised as young as 5. We played outside without adults watching our every move. When the streetlights came on it was time to go in. A couple years later we were allowed to roam the neighborhood and visit places within a few blocks of home- the library, school playground, and the gas station up the hill.
Today, I rarely even see kids playing outside in their own yard let alone venturing a block or two to the park by themselves. Kids also seem to be involved in so many more structured activities instead of free time.
I feel strongly that we as the adults need to ‘scan ‘ the environment for potential hazards and teach children how to do so as well. Teaching them to be observant of their surroundings and recognize there are risks, but then by doing so can engage in play-challenge themselves-with awareness of what is going on in the environment.
We don’t want to bubble wrap kids they need to take risks and problem solve on their own. I as a parent need to remember this when my 4 yr old is on the playground equipment. Not to hover and let him try things on his own. If he fails he will problem solve, try again, and when he’s successful It will help build his confidence.
Watching my grandchildren play outside riding bikes, climbing trees, playing with grasshoppers just makes me smile. Parents need to let there children discover new things everyday, encourage them!
I agree that children are too confined today because of our culture. They must be taught to be observant and vigilant regarding their surroundings.
Taking risks is a part of every day life for children. Trying out something for the first time has the same elements as a risk. Buttoning and zipping their coats for the first time, walking over to another group of children and trying to find ways that will help them become a part of the group, and so much more. We need to step back as teachers and allow children to try out things on their own without interference. It is so important to allow children to make mistakes, not get it right over and over again and to guide them in persevering through it all rather then stepping in right away and solving things for children. This is how we raise real risk takers.