Know how to ensure your child is not developing a risk taking attitude!
A fear grips parents as the adolescent years approach children. Anxiety can be a prominent emotional experience as thoughts of your adolescent wanting to take charge of situations, doing things his own way or engaging in behaviours that are typically termed as risky start plaguing you as a parent.
Risk behaviours are many and they raise their ugly head in numerous formats. From lying and cheating to engaging in acts on account of pressure from others or experimenting with cigarettes, alcohol and drugs, everything constitutes risk taking. For many some things sound rather inconsequential, perhaps even a part of life, while others seem too magnanimous that need to be averted at any cost.
But my premise is that any behaviour, even minutely risky is a stepping stone to more risky behaviours. If we want to encourage our children to steer away from risks then every incident of transgression needs to be checked.
Let?s get to know a little more about risk taking in adolescents!
What makes adolescents take risks?
Think of when you were younger. You would recall that there was no conscious thought of taking risk per se. But the thought perhaps was to try things out, to make choices for your own self, to extend your own assertions and beliefs about things and test out whether things will work or not on your own.
This is the classical situation for most adolescents. They have an intrinsic need to be more independent and at the same time this is a period of their lives in which they want to conform to their friends. Peer groups assume much larger significance and become the barometers to gauge what one must or must not do. As a result, risk taking becomes a cultural norm in the adolescent population and a large proportion of the adolescents may not think of appraising things differently.
Risk taking thus can become an attitude and a way of doing things which frequently gives thrills even if it is at some cost, be it that of yourself or aspects of your life or those of others.
The role parents may play in its acquisition
The acquisition of this attitude of risk taking can also have its genesis to an extent in the parents? approach. The fact is that children learn maximally through observation and for a large proportion of adolescents there is also a tendency to emulate what they see their parents say and do. As a result, observational learning partakes a large role in the development of risk taking behaviours in adolescents.
To compound matters, not checking the behaviour as it emerges or thinking that it is a one off display, something that won?t recur or will disappear with time serves to maintain the continued display of these behaviours.
The things you can do to stop it
1. The first thing that you can do is to be aware of what?s going on in your child?s life. This will enable you to help eliminate the chances of a risk taking behaviour emerge.
2. Check it the first instance in which it emerges. It is imperative that you correct your child?s action in the first instance. Prolonging or waiting for things to settle or relent does not usually work.
3. Keep discussing the reasons why you may want your child to be away from certain behavioural patterns. Adolescents are inquisitive and would like to make their own choices. Help make them a better one by allowing the to be privy to what you are thinking.
4. Remember everything begins in the home. So give your child enough exposure and experiences to be able to determine the pros and cons of situations.
5. Develop your adolescents? ability to think through situations and enhance his or her ability to develop consequential thinking. This can be done by having more frequent brainstorming sessions with you adolescent that allows for him or her to start thinking.
6. Work to enhance your child?s confidence. You need to give positive affirmations and support to ensure that your child is able to trust and believe in himself or herself.
7. Develop the skills to say no and to be assertive. This would require telling them that it is ok to go against what others may be saying or asking them to do. Allow them to see how this is a strength and not a sign of weakness.