“It is only by risking our persons from one hour to another that we live at all.” ~William James

As loving adults, our number one job, above all others, is to keep the children in our care safe, but at the same time, we all know that there is equal danger in bubble-wrapping the kids. It’s a tricky balance, and frankly, each of us finds our balance in a different place, with different children, in different circumstances.

We live in a world that is, according to the data, safer than ever, yet many of us perceive it as more dangerous than ever.

Regulators and licensors and insurance companies and lawyers frighten us with consequences should risk-taking go wrong. 

Psychologists and early childhood experts tell us that if young children aren’t exposed to age and ability-appropriate risk when they are young, their brains, and especially the prefrontal cortex, will fail to develop properly. 

The easy thing to do, of course, is to play it safe and forbid the children from climbing too high or running too fast, yet we are today seeing the consequence of too little risky play in the soaring rates of anxiety, depression, and other mental illness in young children.

As with anything worth learning, the only way to learn how to keep ourselves safe is through practice. The only way to learn about courage is to be courageous. The only way to know if you can do anything is to try to do that thing. And we can’t skip the lessons about failure, even painful failure if we expect to grow into resilient adults capable of picking themselves up when they fall.