Risky Business: How controlled risk can benefit kids, and why we deprive them of it.


Katherine White
One with Heart Program Coordinator 

As parents, we are hard-wired to keep our children safe. We know more than ever about pitfalls and dangers, but are we overprotecting our kids? Are they paying too high a price for safety at all costs?

Over the past 25 years I have watched the dismantling of Sewell Crest park, the park in S.E. Portland where my children grew up. Gone are the wooden teeter-totters; the parallel bars; the tether ball; the super-fast merry-go-round; the swings where you could pump yourself up to at least 20 feet of pure swinging pleasure. The biggest heartbreak of all: the gigantic, metal swirly slide that was always a thrill, but best when covered with snow and ice; replaced by a tiny, plastic number that could only captivate a two-year old.

Studies show that children who learn to handle risk when they are young are better-equipped to survive as adults. Some exposure to risk helps kids develop grit and resilience. It teaches them to take a chance, to recover, to carry on.

Many countries are now in the business of bringing controlled, reasonable risk back to the playground. The United States, a highly litigious country, is not yet following suit. But playgrounds aren’t the only place for kids to develop grit and resilience.  Martial arts provide a way for kids to challenge themselves, to learn to take a fall and get back up.

One with Heart fosters strength and resilience. We know that kids who are confident about their ability to handle challenges are better equipped to take care of themselves and take care of each other. We are fully committed to the business of helping children become their best, strongest selves. Learn more about our programs for kids at onewithheart.com.

And check out this week’ New York Times article:

In Britain, Learning to Accept Risk and the Occasional ‘Owie’ by Ellen Barry. The New York Times. March 11, 2018.

Megan Gaddini