Encouraging Young Adventurers – What adventurous activity does your family love to do together? Have you felt the tug between wanting to protect your children and letting them try hard things? Here are some tips to help you encourage your child’s adventurous side.
That first step off is always the hardest one.
I could hear my husband coaching her down over the cliff. She lost her grip on her confidence, and even from where I stood down below, I could see the tears starting to fall. She was only seven, after all.
But before long, she looked her dad in the eyes and found the assurance she needed that he would help her down. She gathered up just enough courage to take one more step backwards—and then another.
I watched as she slowly made her way down the cliff face. When her feet finally reached the ground, I’ll never forget the smile beaming on her face. She had DONE IT!
She was so happy with her accomplishment, and it wasn’t five seconds before she excitedly proclaimed, “I want to do it AGAIN!”
My husband has been rock climbing and rappelling since he was young, and we’ve recently taken up this hobby as a family. On our first outdoor rappelling adventure, the kids’ nerves were close to the surface, so we took it one step at a time.
It was an amazing experience as we all worked together. My husband belayed and gave instruction; he taught my oldest daughter how to attach, as well as check and connect equipment, and she began helping the younger siblings get ready to rappel.
We cheered each other on and celebrated each other’s successes.
But what made the day for me was seeing the unmistakable boost of confidence my seven-year-old gained from mastering something she didn’t really believe she could do.
You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you cannot do! – Eleanor Roosevelt
I’m often struck by the precarious balance between wanting to keep our children safe and protected, on the one hand, and allowing them to fly, on the other. It can be much harder to let them fly, knowing they may encounter fear…or failure.
But I believe that tackling challenging adventures side by side with our kids helps them learn valuable skills that can translate into real life.
7 Things Our Children Gain through Adventure
- Problem solving and decision making skills.
- Heightened curiosity and creativity.
- More familiarity with their limits and boundaries.
- Experience working as a team.
- Trust in the people they can depend on, like the trust my children have for their dad when he belays them.
- A healthy view of risk. Joe Frost, an influencer in the field of play and safety, has said, “In the real world, life is filled with risks—financial, physical, emotional, social—and reasonable risks are essential for children’s healthy development.” source
- And perhaps biggest of all, the inner belief that they can do hard things. By reiterating their successes during your daily life as a family, your kids can extrapolate that confidence—ultimately believing in their ability to handle whatever life throws at them.
Tips on Finding Adventures that Suit Your Family
- It’s okay to feel scared. Overcoming fear allows our children to feel the rush of accomplishment and a subsequent boost in confidence.
- It’s also okay to push them a little, to encourage them to stretch themselves and reach beyond what they think they can do!
- That said, “adventure” doesn’t mean taking dangerous risks. It means participating in calculated challenges that will help our children grow, not dampen their self-worth or endanger their wellbeing.
- Start small and build from there. Before we moved to an actual cliff face, our family started by rappelling at a local recreation center. Once the kids were comfortable with climbing there, we moved outdoors.
Adventure Activities for Kids and Teens
- paddle boarding
- water or snow skiing
- mountain biking and cycling
- rock climbing
I’d love to hear what kind of adventures your family enjoys doing together and if you’ve had any similar experiences! Happy adventuring, friends!