Learning smart risks canhelp teens stay safeTeenagers and young adults have totry new things in new places to learnhow to be successful adults. But theymay need some help. Here are sixsimple tips to manage risk:
Look first—assess the situationbefore jumping in.
Wear the gear—if an activity hasprotective gear, wear it.
Get trained—if there’s risk, takethe lessons.
Buckle up—helmet, seatbelt orlifejacket, do it up.
Drive sober—be in control behindthe wheel.
Drive smart—avoid distractionssuch as cellphones.
Seek help— it’s always OK to askfor help.
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independence begins long before achild moves out of the house. It canstart with helping set the dinner tableas a preschooler, taking the garbageout in Grade 4, doing the laundryin junior high and getting a driver’slicence in high school. In every case, achild learns and grows from tacklingnew challenges, and that buildsconfidence to take on the next one.
“A skill set that a lot of young
adults need to learn is to be able
to make their own decisions. This
comes from learning in the preteen
and adolescent years,” says Deb Thul,
adolescent transition coordinator
at Alberta Children’s Hospital in
Calgary. Parents can help by teaching
their children skills they will need
to be more independent—how to
cook and do household chores, how
to manage money, even how to get
around on public transit.
Children also need to make some
of their own decisions, even if they’re
the wrong ones. “Oftentimes, making
a bad decision is how they learn to
make good ones,” says Thul. “You
have to let them go in a gradual way
to whatever level they’re ready for.”
You can help your kids understand
how to size up a new situation and
assess risk (see sidebar), whether it’s
starting at a new school or driving on
the highway for the first time.
Whatever milestone they’re facing,kids benefit from having close friendsand community, chances to buildself-esteem and someone to talk towhen they need support. “I havecalled my parents at 3 a.m. cryingonce or twice,” admits Milne.As well as family, kids can getsupport from guidance and careercounsellors, teachers and coaches,mental health services, and church orcommunity groups.
Every transition can be stressful,but the more kids manage, the morethey’re ready for the next one.
“You just have to realize what youcan control and you kind of have tolet go and accept that every singleaspect of your life is now completelydifferent,” Milne says. “While someof that is obviously really scary, it canalso be exciting and fun.”
— Jennifer Allford
Young adults need
to learn to make
their own decisions