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50 Dangerous Things

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We love the book 50 Dangerous things (you should let your children do), by
Gever Tulley and Julie Spiegler, New American Library, 2009.
 
We love it because it’s so fun and such a contradiction to the “Safety Only”
mentality that we are seeing more and more.  And we like it because when
people think we’re nuts for mattress rafting down the stairs, we can just
show them Gever Tulley’s encouragement to kids to break glass, lick 9 volt
batteries, and throw things out of cars.

We completely agree with this book’s major theme: The proper response to
danger is to conquer it with skill and determination, not to avoid it. 
 
Each activity in this book comes with a “why”, which might be a useful skill
(like building a fire) or just plain fun (like sleeping under stars).  I
especially love the simple why explanation for Master the Perfect
Somersualt:  “Somersaults are not dangerous.”
 
Here’s one more quote, which I wish every parent would post somewhere in
their home:  “If you are raising a young tinkerer, know that there are
activities in this book that will require your guidance and, sometimes, your
assistance.  When it comes time to help, resist the urge to tell them how to
do it (unless there is imminent danger, of course).  Instead, try acting
like a robot that does only what you are told.  Be the big, strong or
dexterous hands that they need, and most important, let them fail.  Then
help them figure out why they failed and how to work around it‹-even if it
means starting over.” 

We want so much, as parents, to rescue our children from failure, but that means preventing them from learning.  We so often
short-circuit creativity and experimentation because we jump in with the
“right” answer.  But our answer is seldom really the right answer.  Because
the best answers come from our children, not from us.
 
So next time it hails, go outside with your child with metal bowls over your
heads!

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