Parents, Say "Yes" to Kids Doing Risky Things: 10 Dangerous Ideas to Consider Opinion Fun With Dad

Mike Prochaska
3 years ago

Hey parents: I say, let kids try risky things! I found this great book called 50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do) by Gever Tulley. Here are my 10 favorite ideas from the book:

Throw giant rocks off cliffs or bridges into water to see how big of a splash they can make. I did this millions of time as a kid, and I have seen adults who don’t allow their children to do it. The first time I did this with my kids was when we were on a road trip and they needed to get out of the car. We found a place to throw giant rocks over a cliff into a river and their eyes lit up with pure joy!

Let kids stick their hands or faces out of the window of the car. It’s like exploring a wind tunnel. They open and close their hands and feel the wind pressure. (Of course, they need to be safely buckled in!)

Hammer a nail. So many people these days don’t know how to hammer nails. Hammering improves eye-hand coordination and teaches children a skill they can use in the future.

Burn something with a magnifying glass. Ever try this? You just put the magnifying glass in the sun and it provides you with a focused beam of heat that can burn paper, leaves and even melt plastic. I remember melting my toys on the sidewalk on a warm summer day!

Strong swimmers can jump from high into a calm river or lake. Of course, you should first make sure that the water is deep enough and there's no current. The first time I did this was in Colorado, and the feeling of excitement was like no other. Not just children should experience this – all people, young and old. (Wear your life vest and water shoes!) 

Put a penny on railroad tracks and wait for a train to run it over. After the train safely passes by, see if you can find it. Of course, you need to make sure kids are safe and far away from the tracks when the train comes. I did this with my kids one day while waiting for Mom at the train station. We found one of the three pennies we had left, flattened by the train. (This isn't safe on rapid transit train systems such as the "L" in Chicago, which utilizes an electrified "third rail.")

Ride a bike over a homemade bike ramp. Making a bike ramp and the feeling of danger it gives kids as they ride their bikes over it is so freeing. The feeling of flying through the air and a sense of danger is something kids should experience (wearing helmets and safety pads, of course!).

Play with fire. My kids are only 5 and 6, so I only let them play with fire while we roast marshmallows and make s’mores. They get so excited when the marshmallows catch on fire and they have to blow them out. With older kids, I could see giving them more freedom to try and build the fire, etc. 

Shoot a slingshot. Slingshots can provide hours of fun and they’re a great way to introduce firearm safety – like don’t point it at anyone, ever. I bought my son a slingshot and he loves to shoot rocks over the hills at Grandma’s house.

Climb a rope. I learned that most schools don’t have ropes for children to climb in gym anymore. Kids should climb ropes for strength, agility and fun!

It's about taking calculated risks, keeping safety first always. What risky things do you allow your kids to do??

Editor's note: Kids should be supervised at all times. Each child is unique, so use common sense and your own discretion when considering the types of age-appropriate activities your child participates in. Only you know your child and what makes sense for him or her to try. Safety first! As always, this information is provided for entertainment purposes only. The views expressed in this post are those of the author, and not necessarily those of 30Second Mobile. 

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Comments (60)

Donna John
Love this list, Mike Prochaska ! I grew up putting pennies on the railroad track. My grandparents had a train right across the street, and my cousins and I were always up there (unsupervised, but times were different) and I still have the pennies we squashed in my grandma's sewing box. Great memories!!
Ann Marie Patitucci
I think we definitely need to let our kids take risks (though supervised for their safety)! :) Railroad tracks terrify me though! :) Thanks, Mike Prochaska !
Donna John
I never gave railroad tracks a thought, Ann Marie Gardinier Halstead . But I grew up going to my grandparent's house and had always been around them. As teenagers, we used to walk for miles. Now today, well, that's a different story.
Kirstin Ahearn
These were all so common when we were kids ... and were most fun to do when no adults were in sight. When my kids were younger we would let them roam and explore - they thought they were on their own (such an adventure), but we could see them the whole time!
Mike Prochaska
Yeah I just started this year letting my kids roam this summer. I would be listening to them from the kitchen since I could alway hear them. It gives them a sense of adventure totally
As always, a little common sense goes a long way. You mention this, with your little ones. As long as grown-ups establish safe ground rules depending on the age of the kids, adventurous behavior is where we all learn best.

And this goes double for girls, who tend to be "protected" from "dangerous" behavior more than boys.
Mike Prochaska
Yes I couldn’t agree more with this comment
Sarah Aadland
Funny how we can all nod at most of the things on this list, but cringe at one or two due to our own personal experience.

Jumping from a cliff into a river makes my skin crawl, though I'm a good swimmer. I know of too many terrible accidents on nearby river over here.
Ann Marie Patitucci
Good point, Sarah Aadland ! I think personal experience does play a role in our response!
Mike Prochaska
It so freeing jumping from a cliff. Such a rush but I know what you mean. I still nervous about my kids playing with fire because my brother burned our entire backyard when we were kids and the fire department had to come. But those are the memorizes that you don’t forget for good or bad
Elisa Schmitz
Oh my goodness, Mike Prochaska , you sure know how to start a conversation! The kid in me says "YAAAS!" and the parent in my says "YIKES!" But it is by taking risks and going on adventures that we learn about the world around us. I did so many of these things as a child, especially when visiting my cousins in the country. Today, we have gotten so much more protective of our kids. Maybe we have so much more to worry about today. But with every accomplishment, kids gain confidence, which is key. Maybe fewer kids today would suffer from anxiety if we let them take more risks?? Great debate to have, and I look forward to hearing everyone's thoughts! Donna John Ann Marie Gardinier Halstead Sarah Aadland DoingGoodTogether Kirstin
Meredith Schneider
Oh wow, Mike Prochaska ! Love this! Brings back lots of memories. When we lived in NJ as a kid we lived right on the Raritan River surrounded by woods and cliffs. My sisters and I explored all the time and took many unsupervised risks.😳 the best was riding our horses through the woods and running them as fast as we could down a narrow path with a creek on one side. Playing in the river, tubing, fishing. I so remember the ropes at school in gym and climbing to the top. 💪 Why on earth don’t our kids have ropes to climb and dodgeball at their schools!? We let our kids take risks but as a parent now I’m more responsible lol vs when I was a kid 🤣
Mike Prochaska
Meredith Schneider so you saying you wouldn’t let your kids do that at grandma House ?
Tricia Wood
I thought this was awesome! So many parents shield their kids from life experiences like this. I think that more parents should be teaching their kids "life skills" like building a fire. My kids have done everything on the list except for the train tracks one.
Mike Prochaska
Thank you and welcome to 30seconds oursmallmomentsmatter
I loved doing things like that as a kid! My child is so cautious, it makes me cringe! How can I get her to take a chance?? By the way, she's fourteen!
Danielle Herter
Yup. We have definitely done a few of these.
Mike Prochaska
Love love love love love this!!! @daniielleherter
Vanessa Ball
While I think the list is an EXCELLENT starting point, especially for kids who have been quite sheltered, or whose parents are perhaps nervous letting go of control...I have to eyeroll a bit at the editor's note at the end:

"Kids should be supervised at ALL times."

Really??? I disagree. Kids are entirely too supervised these days. They need opportunities to try and to succeed, or even to try and to fail, all without the watchful eye of parents. They need to know what those two feelings are like without parental commentary and observation. They need to take the consequences of their actions as they come, both good and bad. It's how they grow and gain confidence!

Constant hovering inhibits our children. We do them a disservice.

The editor's note feels more like a CYA for the website than something that should be taken seriously. I know I certainly won't! :)
Teacher Karen
I agree most children are constantly being 'watched' to the point of smothering...of course when they're very young there needs to be supervision, but the ultimate goal of parenting is producing an autonomous get there, they need to be given practice and, over time, increased freedom and responsibility--with increased trust.
Kevin Curley
My oldest is only 4. But he already has his own hammer and cordless drill. I'm cool with all of the activities that the author wrote about. Honestly, the author's examples weren't even close to boundary pushing.
Mike Prochaska
Kevin Curley so what boundaries would u let your kids push?
Kevin Curley
My 4 year old is allowed to use a hatchet, as long as his younger siblings aren't around. That's an example of a boundary that I push.
Elisa Schmitz
I love reading everyone's comments on this post, Mike Prochaska ! I think I would let my child try using a hatchet and other tools when I thought they had the dexterity to do so safely. I agree that trial and error is how kids learn. I don't think my kids at age 4 would have been ready, but definitely at some point! Kevin Curley , I would LOVE to hear more about how you're raising your kids. It sounds like an incredible adventure!
Dieter Schmitz
I love this list. It reads like Eagle Scout merit badges! Way to go Mike Prochaska
Mike Prochaska
Thanks glad you like it love reading everyone’s input too
Best Beards
Suzanne Schlechte
These are great ideas & I think more children should get a chance to do these things. They LOVE it! I believe it empowers them. It shows we have confidence in them and they become more confident in themselves.
Mike Prochaska
Yes they should...
Bob Totans
I also remember a couple of “risky” unforgettable childhood moments from the sixties:

Playing “Mumbly Peg”, a simple game played with a penknife involving trying to flip the knife so that it lands point down into the dirt..if you miss you have to get down on your knees and with your mouth only try to remove a small Peg( stick or tree twig) which is imbedded into the ground.

StockCar Racing with bikes where we would outline in chalk a very large outline of a race track including “oil slicks” made out of sand or dirt.

Making slingshots out of rubber bands and paper clips ..may have caused some pain when hit with one but never lost any eyes.

And lastly for now, actually playing out in the snow building snow forts and having snowball fights. Look at the streets now after a snowfall and a day off from school...nobody out playing anymore..streets are deserted...very sad.
Mike Prochaska
Thank you I love this! You should write your own posts about this!!
Mike Prochaska
These are awesome examples
Brandon Jarvis
Love this conversation!
I'm a big believer in enjoying life to the fullest. A few years ago, I went skydiving in Cuba and the kids were on the beach watching me - waiting for me to land. You're more likely to hear me say 'try it!' 'You can do it!!' Than 'oh no!... that's too dangerous' I want them to be confident in their own capabilities. I also know that they're bound to try these things anyways, may as well teach them how to enjoy risky play - safely.

Me jumping. In case you want to watch Mike! :)
Mike Prochaska
@brandonjarvis @rightbrainedmom that is an AWESOME video!! Elisa All Schmitz 30Seconds Donna John would you jump out of a plane! Elisa All Schmitz 30Seconds
Elisa Schmitz
I don’t think I could do this, Mike Winter, but Brandon Jarvis sure has me thinking about it! 😬
Donna John
Hmmm. I've actually thought about that. Part of me says hell no, but other other says maybe. My son wants to. Thought about giving him a gift card to a skydive place for his birthday, but then thought, nope, he needs to do that on his own. :-)
Elisa Schmitz
Holy cow!! Amazing video, Brandon Jarvis ! I would love it if you would submit a post about this for others to read your story. So inspiring!! Mike Prochaska Donna John
Mike Prochaska
I would do it once
Mike Prochaska
Someone shared this to me in a group sharing it here
Gloria Lintermans
As a child, road his bike over a homemade ramp. As an adult, cycled alone from the west coast to the east coast to raise funds donated to several recognized organizations to help combat global warming.
Elisa Schmitz
That is completely awesome, Gloria Lintermans ! Thank you for sharing, and please submit the full story to our “Make a Difference” category so we can share this!!
Brian Mackenzie
i just found this video of the three year old falling off her scooter on a skate ramp...with her reaction being 'is my wheel ok??' :D

it's as easy not picking them up when they fall :)
Ebony Delaware
These are some great tips! I can't wait to try some of these with my son!
Tanya Kuzmanovic
i used to love burning leaves and twigs with a magnifying glass - my kids tried it out this summer - but couldn't get it to work - i tried to help and couldn't figure it out either - have i lost my risky streak . . . or are the magnifying glasses over-protective nowadays!?
Tanya Kuzmanovic
also - just a side note: we did the pennies on the railroad and had awesome results! but then i discovered it's against the law (in our area anyway) as there is the possibility of the pennies flying off the track at top speeds - in which case they could cause as much damage as a bullet!
Lyle Lieberman
Again one more interesting tips from you Mike Prochaska . Thank you :)
Egan Patricia
I loved putting pennies on the train tracks when I was younger. In fact doing more than a few of these things. But there are laws in some states about live train tracks. SO research before hand!
Jose Manuel Gomez Arrayas
These are all very fun ideas!
Ahmed Bakran
How cute looking both of them
Kaushik Palicha
Thanks For Sharing
Hershey Rosen
Thanks for Sharing
Terry Marshall Campie
Very Informative List .. thanks for sharing Mike Prochaska
Peter Biantes
Trust me its amazing
Brent Huisman Dallas
Yes, I agree. All the reasons are valid and help kids grow!
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