I'll be the first to admit it: I'm a big chicken, especially when it comes to my kids. I wouldn't go so far as to wrap them in bubble wrap each day, but I do want to keep them from getting bumps and bruises, broken hearts and broken limbs, hurt feelings and wounded pride.
I'm not over-protective, but I'm not a risk taker, either. And author/speaker Gever Tulley argues that I might be doing my kids a disservice by not encouraging them to take many risks. In his new book, "50 Dangerous Things (Your Should Let Your Children Do)" Tulley contends that NOT doing dangerous things puts kids at greater risk for hurting themselves then letting them experience danger firsthand but with supervision.
From breaking glass (#23) to playing with fire (#45), Tulley has lots of ideas for activities that may be considered dangerous, but can actually help kids learn how to handle dangerous items — like say broken glass or fire — without hurting themselves. Tulley explains his "Break Glass" suggestion this way: "We are trained never to break anything, especially glass. This can lead to feelings of fear and panic when it happens accidentally, neither of which are useful when dealing with broken glass. Doing it deliberately a few times defuses the built up anxiety and trepidation."
Speaking of defusing, how about Dangerous Idea #09, Make a Bomb In a Bag? I have to admit I was a bit alarmed by this one at first, but then I realized that the ingredients he uses, baking soda and vinegar, are the same ingredients I use to clean my kitchen sink. Sure, it's going to fizz and pop, but it's not going to blow my house down.
All in all, most of the ideas in the book offer just enough adventure to pique a kid's interest without ever putting them in real danger. I'm not sure if I'm ready to let my second-grader walk home from school by herself (#18) or even stand on the roof (#19), but she's welcome to make a slingshot (#27), drive a nail (#06) or even superglue her fingers together (#46) if it helps her learn new skills and bolster her confidence.
Check out Tulley's TED Talk on the top five dangerous things you should let your children do: