Turning tears into smiles: nurturing adventurous children
One of my favourite things about my children is the sense of adventure the four of them share. They love to explore and they love a good outdoor adventure. Although, they all have quite different personalities, they also have elements of their personalities that overlap. The area they all meet in the middle on is their sense of adventure; and I love that.
They might not always have the same level of confidence as each other, but they encourage and support each other all the way – from supporting each other to rock climb, to teaching each other how to scoot or even do forward rolls.
Why a sense of adventure is important
I feel that a sense of adventure is really important for so many reasons. It allows us to step outside the day-to-day norm and try something different. It allows us to see other possibilities. It allows us opportunities to push our limits and see new possibilities.
Whilst routine is good, and very important for children for lots of reasons; encouraging them to try new things, move beyond their comfort zone and look beyond what they would normally do, is also vital for developing self-belief, self-esteem and that feeling that anything is possible.
How can you nurture adventurous children?
Lead by example:
If you aren’t big on adventures yourself, it can be hard for little ones to develop that side of their personality. As a child, one of my parents was big on adventure, and the other not so much. From memory it seemed to be a fear for my safety that was the issue.
There was a balance though I guess, so I grew up learning to balance risk and adventure pretty well I think. I was an adventurous child and in many ways pretty fearless. I’d always pick the biggest horse to ride or the toughest ski slope to decent and, later in life I’d choose more difficult marathons year after year.
I know that since having children I am much more fearful, rather than fearless BUT the sense of adventure has not gone.
In order for children to develop that sense of adventure, they will be reliant on you as their parent to create the opportunities that allow them to develop this side of their personality.
Yes, of course it’s great to expose them to amazing holidays and activities BUT these opportunities don’t have to cost money. Try taking them to a different local park each week, there will be different equipment and new things for them to try.
You could use birthdays and Christmas’ to buy things that they can try at home, perhaps develop a new skill. My dad made me some stilts when I was about eight. I loved them and became quite good at tricks and jumps on them. Last year he made the children some just like the ones I had, they loved them too – and to my amazement I’d not forgotten my skills either.
Let them try:
It can be very hard as a parent to let our children try new things. It often feels unnatural somehow. We want to ‘help’ our children all the time, we don’t want our children to fail and that can stop us from just letting them have a go.
Last week I was at a play centre and there was a parent there who spent the best part of two hours shouting instructions at their child. The child was so fed up by the end they stopped trying to climb on the equipment and sat on the floor.
Let them get messy:
The number of times I have heard parents say to children at the park “don’t do that you’ll wreak those shoes/trainers/trousers” – I have to say this does irritate me. If children are playing at the park, they are likely to get messy. Getting messy is an adventure in itself – let it happen. Clothes wash, shoes clean up, but restricting a sense of adventure may alter a personality.
Let them fail:
This again is something totally unnatural to parents. We are here to protect our children from harm, why would we let them fail, what if they hurt themselves?
We work so hard as parents to intervene and protect our children from harm, as we should. Sometimes though part of the learning is about failing. I learnt that if I fell off my bike, I got up and got back on. If I fell off a horse, I got up and got back on. If I tripped over when I was running, I got back up and carried on.
No we don’t want our precious children to come to any harm, but we do want to teach them that failing is OK, it’s what happens after that point that is important.
Turning tears into smiles
As parents we are responsible for turning those tears into smiles and letting children know that falling down is all part of growing up. It’s not about being embarrassed about failing at something, it’s just what happens.
It depends on the age of the child as to what works best but I always find that distraction, no matter the age of the child works wonders. Perhaps you have a funny story from your own childhood you could tell them? Or maybe you have something you could show them to distract their attention?
Sometimes playing a different game or doing a new activity is enough to distract them, other times you have to bring out the big guns – yes I mean the ice cream!
When little ones scrape a knee or cut themselves, it’s our job as parents to soothe away the tears. Having a good first aid kit on hand can be very useful. Elastoplast are all about providing first aid products to help parents turn those tears into smiles. They are a worldwide brand that parents can rely on, and with many character products within their range, you can be sure little ones will be smiling again in no time.
Do you have adventurous children? How do you keep them smiling?
This post is an entry for the BritMums #TearsintoSmiles Challenge, sponsored by Elastoplast.