Tag Archives: Risk taking in teens

DANGEROUS RISKS

As promised, a few tips about dealing with teens who take dangerous risks.  

Reality check; Parents do not have the control the experts want you to think you have.  Not even the police can stop all risky behavior.  I picked this picture becauase it reminded me of the dangerous water-filled  quarry, the kids in our neighborhood all loved to swim in.

It was fenced in, posted with no trespassing signs,  but kids would rather swim there than their parents’ pools or at nearby Long Island Sound. Increased police sur­veillance only added to the adventure. The kids always figure out when they could swim and dive into the boulder-filled pool without being hassled by the cops.

Scary, still there are a few things you can do.

PARENTING  tips To REDuce RISK taking 

Tip one:  Do read yesterday’s post about how it is best to start early to safety proof your kids. A number of the tips can still be implemented.

Tip two: Convene a family meeting, Don’t do family meetings?  No time like the present to start.   And yes, here is a plug for my eBook about How to Hold a Successful Family Meeting.  

Just can’t take that on now? Understood.  Nevertheless you need to have a meeting and talk calmly with your kid about your concerns. Use the following guidelines

You are meeting to discuss safety and nothing else.   You want the child to hear your concerns and take them seriously.  S/he will be in charge of calming your concerns.  If that is done, no further meetings will be necessary.  

Here are the suggested meeting rules. Each of you speaks in turn and speaks briefly. Three minutes is the suggested time for having your say,  no interrupting, you listen to each other, you respect each other.  

Start by stating you are worried, and give one  specific example of why your are worried.  One example, don’t ask questions, just state the example and then say “Your turn.”  Whatever the kid’s response say, “Thank you and go to your next example.” Continue this way until you have aired your concerns. End the meeting saying, “It is up to you to calm my fears, do that  or the next meeting will be about consequences.” 

Why not get on with the consequences at this meeting?  You are putting the ball in your kid’s court. If you have to impose consequences, the kid has earned them.

Tip three:  Consequences that work with teens are not easy to come up with. Grounding only seems to work when a Good Kid wants you to pull in the reins.  Other options are loss of privileges particularly allowance, cell phones, all phone privileges and finally, the right to drive. 

A consequence most family do not think of is a mental health evaluation and family counseling, but these needs to be on your list.   Moreover, if the risk taking involves illegal activities you are an accessory if you permit such behavior. In that case the result needs to be involving a lawyer and following his or her advice.

Tip four:  You need to adjust the above to the seriousness of your child’s risk taking behavior.  If you kid is getting hurt at the rate of requiring medical intervention monthly, or has been stopped for speeding more than once, you need outside help. Get it. Talk to your family doctor, the school social worker, your religious advisor, a lawyer, a therapist, or the local youth officer.

Tip five:  Get the free down load of my book When Good Kids Take Risks.  It discusses these issues more thoroughly and is  available until  midnight June 11th. See the side bar.  

STAY STRONG

More kids than not survive the teen years.  The few risk takers – adults and kids that don’t survive are the stuff of headlines.  The fact is most risk-takers learn from lesser hurts than the ones in the headlines.

 

Thank you for caring, sharing, and all the other things you do to make your corner of the world better.

Katherine

TWO DISCLAIMERS

The first:  Although built upon evidenced based practices, there is no guarantee my advice is the right advice for you and your family. Experiment, try my tips; if they are not useful to you try another parent adviser. You are the expert on you and your child; the rest of us experts on many different things.

The second: I have dysgraphia, a learning disability that peppers my writing with mis-spelling and punctuation errors. All my books are professionally edited. Not so my blog posts. Although I use all the grammar and spelling checks, mistakes slip by. If they bother you, seek another source of support for life’s less savory moments.   Life is too short to let problems you can avoid annoy or stress you.

TO RISK OR NOT TO RISK

Are you a risk taker or do you like the safe route through life? Most of us are a bit of both. What about your kids? Worried about their risk taking, this one is for you. But first an Emotional Fitness Training Poster Quote. 

A Poster Coach about risk taking

The last quote was pounded into my head by my mother.  I don’t actually remember hearing her say it that often, but she most have, for when fear tries to hold me back, I rev myself up with that quote.

Now, I was a shy child, and believe it or not in many situations shyness still holds me back. Those who have seen me lecturing or giving a workshop are right to scoff a bit, and in some situations I burst forth.  I did stand up on Oprah and do my thing.

Shy children need gentle and constant encouragement. That’s what worked for me. Marry my mother’s “Nothing ventured” idea to mistakes are for learning provides children with a powerful message that builds courage.

What about the child that takes so many risks the local emergency room jokes about giving him a room of his own?  A different story. He need a professional evalutation.

PARENT tips about risk taking in children

Tip one: Start safety training early.  I had a loosy-goosy friend when my kids were growing up.  She was big on “Letting kids do their thing.”  She had one bee in her bonnet, however. That bee? Safety. Her kids were among the first to wear helmets, but where her training shined brightest was in the seat belt drill.  Seat belts were relatively new way back then, and lots of families didn’t stress the Buckle Up bit.  She did and it worked.  Before her kids behinds hit the seat, they were pulling on their seat belts.

Tip two: As soon as your little ones start recognizing words, teach “Safe” and “Danger.”  My not yet two-year-old grandson knows “Danger” means come to an adult and hold their hand.  He learned that on walks and mostly when it came to crossing streets, but also when approached by a dog eager to be petted.

Tip three: Teach the art of rating things. Do this in general and not specifically related to danger.  Any thing can be rated and should be, it is a major emotional fitness tool and teaches a child not to sweat the small stuff.  In time you want to use a 10 point scale.  Put the extreme at either end.  The average in the middle and then work up and down the scale. See the Wiki How article I started on how to take a feeling thermometer – feeling thermometers are rating scales.  

Start with the falls that go with early childhood, but don’t use numbers yet. Use Really Big Hurt for broken bones and trips to the doctor for stitches.  Big Hurt the falls or hurts that send  have your child coming to you for a  hug or need a band-aid. Little hurt for when you see the child is looking to you more for attention than anything. Add the words “Pop up.” to encourage sucking it up.  “Good job” are for when the child falls  hard, but pops up and goes on with playing. 

As the child begins to learn numbers you can add them, but don’t get too fussy about the child knowing the number. Just assign the number you feel measures the hurt and display the proper amount of sympathy.  Little or no sympathy for small hurts then more  sympathy as the hurt mounts.  One day, your child will surprise you and rate the hurt before you do.  That is if you are consistent. Teaching skills requires consistent practicing.

Tip four:  Involve your child is a sport that involves body control, bumps and bruises and pay for some professional training or coaching if possible.  My first choice is Aikido  which provides peace oriented self-defense course.  Here is a link to what I call the  Peace-Minded Karate School.  I had  one such dojo teach   Aikido  to the kids at the Family Support Center I ran.

Tip five: Have safety drills.  These can range from putting on the seat belts when you get in the car, to helmet up for skateboarding to middle of the night fire drills.

What if your child is a teen and you are only beginning to worry about his or her risk taking?  Get the free down load of my book When Good Kids Take Risks.  It is available until  midnight June 11th. See the side bar.  Also, read tomorrow’s post for I will talk a bit there about teens and risk taking.

STAY STRONG

More kids than not survive the teen years.  The few risk takers – adults and kids that don’t survive are the stuff of headlines.  Moreover as some of the quotes showed, you danger and hurt are part of life whether you take risks or not.

I suggest if you can’t sleep nights for worrying about your kid professional help may be needed.  If the kid isn’t always need bandages or worse, you may need the help.  If the kid needs medical care more than once because of risky behavior, he also needs a professional mental health evaluation.

Either way and just for your own health, think about getting my eBook on self soothing.  Costs less than a fudge sundae and is better for your health.

For a sample of a self soothing exercise,  try my Be With Beauty  Emotional Fitness Exercise.  It is perhaps the easiest of my Twelve Daily Exercises, but given time and practice guarantees a quick break when stress mounts.

Thank you for caring, sharing, and all the other things you do to make your corner of the world better.

Katherine

TWO DISCLAIMERS

The first:  Although built upon evidenced based practices, there is no guarantee my advice is the right advice for you and your family. Experiment, try my tips; if they are not useful to you try another parent adviser. You are the expert on you and your child; the rest of us experts on many different things.

The second: I have dysgraphia, a learning disability that peppers my writing with mis-spelling and punctuation errors. All my books are professionally edited. Not so my blog posts. Although I use all the grammar and spelling checks, mistakes slip by. If they bother you, seek another source of support for life’s less savory moments.   Life is too short to let problems you can avoid annoy or stress you.

WHEN GOOD KIDS TAKE RISKS

Do you have a tree climber, a roof hanger? A fearless one? Good luck preventing trips to the emergency room.

IMAGE BY SNAP PHASE

Risk taking comes naturally to some kids.  The risks they will take will only increase during the teen years.  What can a parent do?

PARENT ADVICE FOR REDUCING RISK TAKING BEHAVIORS

As the law prevents you from handcuffing your child to a pipe in your basement, your best bet is going for damage control.  Here are some tips that have worked for other parents.

Tip one: Hopefully, as your child has been growing up you have been teaching my Number One Live the Good Life Rule – Safety.  Teaching seat belt safety, helmet safety, and all other staying alive rules is easiest when taught as the child starts walking. Safety becomes a habit.

Tip two: Control your flashing yellow lights. By that I mean issue as few warnings as possible.  If you are an Nervous Nelly or a Jittery Jim, think about buying my book Parents Are People Too  or follow my Emotional Fitness Training Blog, and start practicing the Daily Twelve Emotional Fitness.

Tip three: Channel energy and risk taking into both competitive and individual sports.

Tip four:  Use professional trainers for individual sports and insist the trainers emphasize safety.

Tip five:  Risk taking can be addictive as it releases a variety of feel good chemicals.  As with all addictions the line between use and abuse is fuzzy, but be alert to an ever increasing need to pursue more and more dangers, an increase in accidents, and increased protest and anger when anyone interfers with their pursuit of risk.  If you suspect a growing and dangerous love affair with risk taking, seek professional help.

STAY STRONG

From the moment we bring a new born home from the hospital, parents worry about keeping their child safe and well; it is a worry that never goes away.  The worse tragedy that can befall a parent, is to bury a child.  At the same time, worrying does not change the future.

Remember what matters, as the Dali Lama notes:  “If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.”

In one way or another the wise have advised the same.  Do the best to do all you can to keep a child safe, but do not let worrying about the future destroy the present and the joys it holds.

As always thank you for following me. If you know someone else who will benefit from my thoughts, forward this to them. Liking, commenting, and sharing are other ways you can help me stay strong and spread some ideas others might find helpful.

This topic is explored more in my Parenting Survival Guide, When Good Kids Take Risks.

Katherine

DISCLAIMER: FORGIVE MY GRAMMATICAL ERRORS FOR I HAVE DYSGRAPHIA. If you need perfect posts, you will not find them here. I have dysgraphia which means that sometimes my sentence structure is not that easy to follow or I make other errors. Still, most people understand me. All of my books are professionally edited, but not all of my blog posts are. Thanks for your understanding and reading my work.