Friday, 8 July 2016

What’s a healthy amount of risk for children?

Managing a child’s risk, and teaching them to manage their own is a massive part of parenting.  There’s so many things to be exposed to as a human being, physical dangers as well as those pesky modern online bad boys.

On the parental risk-o-meter scale, I’m not entirely sure where I fall.

Fall being a very apt word here.

I’m not a maverick who will ask my child to barrel roll out of my car to conclude a school run, but nor am I likely to place a fireguard around a tepid radiator.

So, that’s that cleared up then.


HOW DO YOU FEEL WHEN SIGNING A DISCLAIMER?


I’ve signed injury disclaimers for myself, and for my child a good few times.  At high-rope courses, for taking a go-kart around an indoor circuit and for parties at bouncy-castle-trampoline type places.

Can’t say I’m blasé about them, I do take a minute to read them through, but then again I’m not sure I think about them too deeply.  No one really wants to think about what may happen if things go wrong, do they?

Then this happened.

Ouch!

Max , my 11 year-old boy, was at a trampoline park, but before he even made it to the trampolines, he took a fall on the warm-up gym equipment.

A seemingly innocuous fall, taken similar countless times without injury, left him with his wrist, or forearm, broken in two places.

Not pleasant.

WOULD YOU BAN YOUR CHILD FROM RISKY THINGS?


I must say the care he received at accident and emergency was superb.  As was his general attitude and how he coped with the pain, and the need for them to manipulate the bones back into place before putting him in a cast.

It was an eye-opening experience, and a very difficult one to watch your child go through, but he made me very proud at the same time.

What was also very interesting was the number of hospital staff that were critical of the number of injuries they see from the same local venue.  The worst being someone suffering a broken back.

And while Max got his post plaster x-ray done, another girl passed us with a suspected broken ankle from the same place.

“We’ve banned all our kids from going,” one nurse told me.

I must say the centre's kind offer of a refund and a free return wasn’t one I felt immediately good about.

It’s unlikely I’ll send him again, and I’m unsure he’ll want to go again given the injury and the inconvenience it has put him to.


IS NO RISK EXPOSURE COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE?


Max apologies several times, to several parties, for his injury.  I reassured him, as did others, there was no need to apologise, that accidents happen and that he wasn’t to blame.  No one was, really.

We also talked about if he’d done all he could to minimise his risk.  Did he take a second to make sure his footing, or of where he may land if he fell and what he may learn going forward?

Mindful not to get him to blame himself, I thought it important to point out that while he may decide to never approach a similar situation again, he may be better off still approaching similar situations yet with a revised approach, that while considering risk didn’t take the fun out of it.

My fear being that by being put off completely, as well as missing out on experiences, complacency eventually could lead him to think there wasn’t risk in anything he still did.  Like walking along a pavement, going up or down stairs or even crossing a road.  Everyday things that have, so far, not resulted in any injuries.


GETTING IT RIGHT


It’s hard to let a child fall, but to be there to mend, put back together and assist in their journey of learning is a privilege.

I can only hope, like parents the world over, that I am guiding him in a way that helps, and that our chances of being back in an accident & emergency departments are smaller than they were before.



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