What is risk-taking behaviour?
This is characterised as those behaviours which may expose people to harm or may contribute to a higher risk of injury and reaching their full potential in life.
Young people, especially teenagers, are more prone to risk-taking behaviour than other demographics. Some risky behaviour is normal and part of growing up, while others are potentially dangerous and even life-threatening.
Why are young people more likely to take risks?
As children grow into teenagers, their brains also grow. As the brain grows there are changes which affect their thinking and behaviour. This coupled with their environment influences how a child expresses themselves and how they think, feel and act.
Teenagers are looking for new experiences and will commonly explore their limits and boundaries, including those set by parents. This is a part of growing up and becoming independent adults.
But some of these thrill-seeking activities can also have profound effects on the growth and development of young people.
Negative risk-taking behaviour
Behaviours that lead to unintentional injuries or violence.
Using alcohol and other drugs.
Unprotected sex and sexting.
Consuming alcohol and drugs and driving vehicles.
Speeding and reckless driving of cars and motorcycles.
Unhealthy diet and lack of exercise.
But it’s not all doom and gloom, there are many positive ways to encourage a growing teenager to safely experience adrenaline rushes.
Positive risk-taking behaviour
Participation in team and individual sporting activities.
Rock climbing, abseiling.
Water sports such as surfing, sailing and kayaking.
Theme-park rides, rollercoasters and other adrenaline rush activities.
Competing in school events, debates and other team sports.
Keeping young people safe
Communication is the most important key to keeping your child safe as they grow up. Set rules for them – they need boundaries more than ever at this age. Give good reasons or rationales for your decisions. As they grow up and yearn for more responsibility,
the rules will need to be adapted, so be flexible.
Try not to be over-protective. This can work against you and actually hinder their development into an adult.
Practise what you preach.
You cannot give them one rule and then do the opposite, so lead by example.
Get to know their friends and invite them into your home. This way you get an idea of how they are developing socially and if there are any negative influences.
Help them cope with peer pressure. This is a big one. Young people can make group decisions which can very quickly become negative. Teach them how to make decisions as an individual. Encourage them to make choices from when they are young. This is a good skill to developing confidence and the ability to think through suggestions made by friends.
Encourage positive behaviour and allow them to take some risks which are not harmful.
Stay connected and build healthy relationships with your teenagers.