Encouraging Kids to Have New Experiences: How to Let Them Take the Driver's Seat by Sheri B Doyle
One of our favorite things to do as a family is go to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Va. I celebrated my 40th birthday there with friends and all of us rediscovered the joy of riding roller coasters, eating ice cream for dinner and junk food all day while trying to win giant stuffed animals in between. The kids in our family love to go because they get to do things we normally don’t let them do, like eating pretzels and ice cream for dinner and trying to win giant stuffed animals while riding rides and seeing shows.
All of the kids talked before our trip about riding their first roller coasters – they couldn’t wait for the experience, and more importantly they couldn’t wait to brag to their friends about what rides they had conquered. Once we were standing in front of a roller coaster their resolve would waiver and fear would force them to change their minds.
Struggling about the best way to handle the situation so we didn’t traumatize them, we began conversations about overcoming our fears. As parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles, we don’t know the threshold each child has for new experiences. In our family, we allow the child to make the decision based on what they are feeling. We encourage them to not let fear determine their experiences but to listen to their instincts when it’s telling them something is wrong. We offer alternatives to taking smaller steps to get to their ultimate experience and talk about the rewards of overcoming fears and accomplishing dreams or wishes.
Each child has made the decision to try a roller coaster on their first trip; they may not always be the craziest one at the park, but it is a roller coaster they have decided they are comfortable with. When they step off the ride, no matter how scary, they are beaming from ear to ear from overcoming their fears and trying something new.
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