12 'Dangerous' things that can actually teach kids about safety
Though you want to shield your child from risk and danger, there are certain 'dangerous' activities that could actually be valuable learning opportunities!
As a parent, you want to make sure your kid learns about safety as early as possible. You want to protect them and make sure they're cautious. But did you know that there are typically dangerous things for children that could actually teach them how to be safer?
Now, I don't mean letting your kids skydive to learn the value of parachutes. But simple everyday tasks often considered not suitable for kids can offer valuable learning experiences.
By not being overprotective when it comes to these 'dangerous things,' you're giving them learning experiences that could benefit them well into adulthood.
Dangerous things for children: 12 Risky activities that can teach kids about safety
1. Playing with fire
Let them cook or bake – under your supervision, of course!
Not only can these activities help hone their math skills and their ability to follow instructions, it teaches them about fire safety, too.
The best thing about whipping up treats is that it could actually be a good bonding experience with mummy and daddy!
2. Climbing trees!
Not only will climbing trees hone their motor and coordination skills – not to mention it's super fun, too – but like the dangerous things for children on this list, tree-climbing teaches them many lessons. Kids learn to be confident in their own abilities. In their young minds, they can scale any obstacle, no matter how high.
Sure, there might be scrapes and cuts along the way, but these are all a part of childhood.
3. Rowing, canoeing, kayaking
Being allowed to navigate through deep waters doesn't exactly classify as safe play for kids, but outdoorsy dangerous things for children can foster an appreciation for nature. It exercises their muscle coordination and it cultivates their willingness to work hard to get to a desired destination!
Just make sure they are supervised. And even if they know how to swim, wearing a life jacket is a must.
4. Take appliances apart
"Next time you're about to throw out an appliance, don't throw it out. Take it apart with your kid," advises Gever Tulley, founder of the Tinkering School, says in a TED talk exploring beneficially dangerous things for children.
"Even if you don't know what the parts are, puzzling out what they might be for is a really good practice for the kids to get sort of the sense that they can take things apart, and no matter how complex they are, they can understand parts of them."
Tulley emphasises the importance of learning about 'knowability.' Kids should learn that nothing is too complex to figure out. Everything they use in daily life has been put together by skilled people using specific sets of knowledge. And they can access this knowledge, too.
5. Going Camping
Spending the night outdoors can offer various learning experiences about nature and astronomy. Plus, it can help them disconnect from technology and learn to value the simple things in life.
Spending a night under the stars, with only the sound of crickets and rustling leaves, can be truly soothing. It also offers opportunities for you to bond with them by talking about life.
6. Owning a pocketknife
"Your first pocketknife is like the first universal tool that you're given. You know, it's a spatula, it's a pry bar, it's a screwdriver and it's a blade, yeah. And it's a powerful and empowering tool," explains Tulley, adding that some Indigenous cultures even allow toddlers to wield knives!
"Kids can develop an extended sense of self through a tool at a very young age. You lay down a couple of very simple rules: always cut away from your body, keep the blade sharp, never force it, and these are things kids can understand and practice with," he suggests, clarifying that even if they do cut themselves, they'll heal pretty fast.
7. Rock climbing or wall climbing
Scaling a high wall or mountain might be one of the most dangerous things for children that parents can think of, but they can be good learning experiences!
Even indoor wall climbing can help boost a kid's confidence, agility, and endurance! Just make sure they know about the dangers of falling and injury and how to climb properly before letting them have their fun.
Whether you're climbing indoors or outdoors, experts should ensure ropes are properly anchored and attached to your kid's harness. And always spot your little ones while they are close to the ground!
8. Throwing darts
Throwing darts is a "combination of analytical and physical skill" that promotes hand-eye coordination, strengthens brain function, and hones concentration skills.
"It turns out that our brains are actually wired for throwing things, and like muscles, if you don't use parts of your brain, they tend to atrophy over time," explains Tulley.
"So practicing throwing things has been shown to stimulate the frontal and parietal lobes,which have to do with visual acuity, 3D understanding, and structural problem solving, so it helps develop their visualization skills and their predictive ability."
9. Boil water in a paper cup
While this sounds like a recipe for disaster, it can actually help your kids learn about the wonders of science – how fire and water can coexist. Make sure the cup is set in a stable position atop the stove and have a pair of tongs ready.
Once the water starts to boil, maintain a safe distance. You'll soon see the paper cup darkening in places not directly in contact with water. Don't believe us? See for yourself, by checking out this video.
10. Use power tools
"Keep out of reach of children" doesn't always apply when it comes to power tools. Letting them use tools to build can strengthen their ability to imagine, innovate and execute plans.
Instruct them on how to use the tools safely before letting them build cubby houses or forts. Get fun kid-friendly DIY ideas here.
11. Make and play with a rope swing
By requiring them to make a rope swing from scratch, you're teaching them about patience and dedication. Arm them with the right tools and let them loose. Once they're done, the fun will be much more meaningful since they made the swing themselves! Find out how to make your own rope swing, here.
12. Build and race a go-kart!
Under your supervision, allow your child to build a go-kart or billy cart from scratch! Find out how you can make one of your own here.
Once you're done, race with them down your street, park or driveway! More than a lesson in road safety, it offers a fun bonding experience, too!
What dangerous things for children do you think are great for teaching safety? Let us know in the comments below.