Q: Should we be concerned about a child who doesn’t like to take risks? For example, our eight-year-old consistently avoids scary roller coasters. My husband thinks he should be pushed harder and forced to face his fears. I feel we should give him time to develop confidence at his own pace. What’s your perspective?
A: Our first suggestion is that you and your husband try to come to a mutually agreeable consensus. In general, dads often tend to be more adventurous, while mums are naturally protective. We think there’s an equitable balance to be found.
In that context, parents do well to remember that every child has a unique personality. Some children are simply biologically wired to be more cautious and careful. This isn’t necessarily a sign of cowardice or timidity. In some cases it may actually be a mark of prudence and maturity beyond a child’s years. (Birth order can affect a child’s temperament as well).
It’s also important to consider a child’s age and level of development. There are a lot of primary school children who don’t enjoy riding on a gigantic “death-drop” roller coaster. The same thing can probably be said of many adults – to a certain extent this is just a matter of personal taste and preference. Your son is still a child, and therefore he thinks and behaves as a child.
Along those lines, keep in mind that your son still has his entire life ahead of him. The process of growing up may involve all kinds of changes in his temperament. It’s entirely possible for a cautious child to turn into a thrill-seeking teenager. So our best advice for both of you, as parents, is simply to unconditionally love and support your son as he develops into the person he was created to be.
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