From an evolutionary perspective, children are natural born risk-takers. In the past, they were exposed to more threats and had to learn to navigate danger and defend themselves in order to survive. Risk-taking was an integral part of this process, which also saw them learn independence and resilience.
Nowadays, these threats have been removed and thankfully, children have a much better chance of survival. But some psychologists fear that modern tendencies to wrap children in cotton wool and protect them at all costs has deprived them of their inner resilience. To test this theory, a New Zealand primary school decided to suspend the traditional rules of the playground. Children were encouraged to roam the grounds freely, to jump from the equipment and roll down hills. The staff predicted accidents and chaos but found that the children’s behaviour improved while bullying significantly declined.
When I was growing up, children were not coddled. Corporal punishment was a standard in schools, and teachers instilled a sense of fear in their students. Thankfully, times have changed and this is now a relic of the past. But I did learn some valuable lessons in childhood that stayed with me throughout my professional career. Authority figures made it very clear that there are no handouts in life, that if I wanted something I had to work for it, and that no one was going to present me with an award for just showing up. Above all else, I learned resilience.
When you find success as a rebel entrepreneur, it may be tempting to want to buy your kids the world, but the key to raising independent children is about striking a balance. Allow them to take risks and to fail. Let them learn that they’re not the best at everything. Encourage them to fight their own battles and to be held accountable. In this, you prepare them for the real world and they’ll be able to cope with the challenges that come with adulthood. The best gift you can give them is a mindset that’s resilient.