5 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Children Do: Gever Tulley at TEDxMidwest


Translator: Mohand Habchi
Reviewer: Sofia Zaleeva I don’t have a lot of time. I prepared 18 minutes
of presentation; we are going to do in eight.
So get ready. First off,
I want to talk about danger, and I’m going
to need a volunteer. (Laughter) Okay, I’m kidding. But…
(Laughter) Here’s the thing. My wife and I wrote this book, “Fifty Dangerous Things”. And if the slide guy backstage
can get my speaker notes up here, because there are a couple of numbers
that I need to refer to later and I’ve already forgotten them. We wrote this book, and… A child psychologist in Australia said that the book was actively
encouraging children to participate in activities that could scar, maim, and kill.
(Laughter) And this is without
ever having seeing the book— never read it— he completely missed the point that the book
is actually about safety. So,
(Laughter) let’s look at topic number one in this book of scar,
maming, and killing. Take something like:
(Laughter) “Lick a 9V battery”. Now, raise your hand if you have licked a 9V battery. (Laughter) Okay, this is a good crowd. (Laughter) Okay, raise your hands
if you are going to lick one tonight. (Laughter) We chose this
as the first topic in the book, because we thought that
everybody would have done it. Wrong! It turns out that ideas about the risk
of licking a 9V battery include things like: death by electrocution,
(Laughter) burn your tongue off,
(Laughter) permanent loss of sense of taste. And the actual risk: it’s harmless. According to the Centers
for Disease Control, who track
these kinds of household accidents, there has never been
not one single recorded incident of anyone being injured
by licking a 9V battery. So where did these kinds of mythic false perceptions
come from? And I think it’s pretty easy to see where they come from
these days. (Laughter) I don’t have to tell you how much the media
loves the story about a child in peril. People in Kazakhstan were watching this story unfold at 3AM their time. Is it any wonder that children in our society
are over-protected? This kind of inundation of stories about children
in peril and danger creates the illusion that children
are actually in danger. And our perceptions of risk are based more on hearsay — a news media confabulation, really — than any rational analysis. And to talk about this — and this is for you, Eryn — I’ve coined a new term. Dangerism. I want you to remember this term. This is based on the word carnism,
which was coined by Melanie Joy in her book, “Why We Eat Pigs,
Ride Horses and… Pet Dogs”. I’ve screwed that up.
Sorry, Melanie. But it turns out that our family histories
and our cultural context, and our personal experiences
in childhood and so forth have more to do
with how we perceive danger than the actual
measurable risks involved. And like
our phobias and our choices about which animals to eat, there may be
no rational basis for this, and this has gotten to the point where our fears are so tainted by this exposure to the media, that the top five things
parents are worried about in regards to their children — and you’ll notice ninjas aren’t on here — (Laughter) do not overlap at all with the five things
that children in America are actually dying of. And what is so criminal about this is that the thousands of hours
we spend talking to children about stranger danger would be so much better spent encouraging them to get outside, doing family interventions, teaching them how to swim. None of these things
make for glamorous news stories. So to combat this avalanche
of unfounded fears and equip children to better handle the real risks of the real world, I present for you: “Five More Dangerous Things
you should let your children do.” We can counter
this rampant fear-mongering by deliberately creating
opportunities for children to learn to recognize
and mitigate risk. And here they come. Number one: walk to school. Car accidents are the number one cause of death
for children in the United States. And you can reduce that risk greatly simply by reducing
the amount of time spent in cars. The number one fear
of parents in this country is kidnapping. Kidnapping by a non family member doesn’t even make
the top five thousand things that harm children, but study showed
that children who walk to school are better judges of character, have better situational awareness, and so are therefore
less likely to be victimized. And the habit of walking
pays dividends over a lifetime: improved memory,
consistent exercise habits, independence,
and a long-lasting sense of well-being. Number two: climb trees. When children engage with
natural play structures, they exhibit
greater cognitive engagement — this is a classic study
out of Germany — more attention is paid to the activity. And unlike a jungle gym, the tree requires you to figure out how to climb each moment of it. Each spot in a tree is unique and presents a unique
set of challenges. The child must also
take and demonstrate responsibility for themselves as they ascend up there, out of reach of their parents. And there’s this unique
sense of freedom that comes from being up
in the top of a tree. Number three: burn things
with a magnifying glass. (Laughter) Children learn early that the sun
is the source of power for almost all life on Earth. We get that in grammar school. But until they have a chance
to harness and direct it, it’s really difficult
to build an intuitive sense of just how much power
there is in sunlight. It’s also a great self-directed way for them new explore — discover what burns
and what doesn’t — and if you’re worried about fire, give them a water bottle. Refraction is less intuitive
than reflection, and playing with the lens helps children
integrate that concept. Number four: make a bomb in a bag. (Laughter) We are composed
of chemical compounds, surrounded
by chemical compounds, and consuming
chemical compounds. But we don’t often have the chance
to play with chemistry just for the sake of exploration. A simple chemical reaction that we can experiment with provides the conceptual foundation for deeper understanding of the elemental nature of our world. Home chemistry sets
have all but disappeared, and schools right now are banning the baking soda vinegar volcano, so you have to create this opportunity
for your children at home. Making a small explosion is a great way for kids to get a handle on
the concepts of chemistry, and messing with the proportions
is a great way to experience the scientific method. And last but not least, number five: super-glue
your fingers together. (Laughter) A temporary disability can help us better appreciate our physical condition. Necessity is the mother of invention, and having to figure out how to open a jar of peanut butter without your thumb
(Laughter) forces us to be creative. Done for an hour or more, your brain actually builds a new kinesthetic map
of your abilities to accommodate this limitation. And when the glue comes off, there will be this moment where their usual abilities
seem unusual to the child. The most effective way
to keep children safe is to give them
a little taste of danger. Thank you so much.
(Applause) (Applause)

100 thoughts on “5 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Children Do: Gever Tulley at TEDxMidwest”

  1. I had braces as a kid and I touched a 9 volt battery to my top and bottom braces. All I can say is DON'T DO IT.

  2. I can forgive this guy a bit, in 2012, slime wasn’t big, but I can’t go anywhere with kids toys without seeing a chem set for slime or some other science related activity.

  3. Kids are not actively trying to kill themselves, they're interested in self preservation just as much as adults are!

  4. Our teacher of electronics said there were injuries caused by batteries (I don't remember 9V or 12V), when someone touched contacts with injured hands. He said flesh has much less resistance then skin, so even this low voltage can stop heart, if it is applied to flesh of left and right hand (given that there was no skin for whatever reason).

  5. I once climbed to a pear tree. Got bitten by an ant. Got annoyed by this, an got bitten by another and again. That were red ants. They continued to bite me causing slight discomfort, so I lost my patience and climbed down. Never again I climbed that pear tree. Apple trees are fine tho.

  6. Nice talk! I experimented with all those things when I was a child, excepting super gluing my fingers, that I did later in life.
    When I became a father I tried to pass those experiences down to my two daughters, in particular, tree climbing, starting a fire without matches, safely handle a sharp knife, a task that my wife doesn't know and keeps on cutting herself, and camping or sleeping outside without a tent.
    My eldest daughter grew up being very cautious and safe opting for five stars hotels, while my younger one became a professional freestyle skier injuring herself several times and being able to sleep in a tent with 5 degrees Fahrenheit in winter.
    In any case, it is definitely better to teach your own children how to deal with potential dangers than how to avoid them altogether.

  7. So all my fears about strangers are… fake because of my mom? Not to say that I shouldn't be scared of it at all, but rather tone it down a bit? I always see the worst in people on the street, but they might just be some guy with bad genetics or forgot to take a shower that morning and is going to the store for something like milk. And I learn more at school because the teachers let us figure out what hurts and what doesn't/what we should do instead of what we were doing all on our own. She taught me to see the worst in people from a young age. Huh. I don't have to fear everyone and everything I see on the street.

  8. I used to be terrified to ride a bike because I’ve heard stories of kids getting hit by cars, now I realize if I never would’ve rode on the side of a freeway I would never had realized how fun it is

  9. Did all this as a kid and I look around at my peers like they’re idiots. Ur a senior in highschool and u can’t grasp photosynthesis and you pronounce debt “debit” smh

  10. Walking to school as a kid makes u tougher than the lot for sure. We were lil badasses compared to the bus riders, and the parent pickup kids were always weird

  11. Every tree where I live is just big and wide with no branches or foot holds until the very top and also the branches are thin so I’ve never climbed a tree. Though maybe if I search I’ll find one and practice climbing it cause everyone says it so great

  12. When my brother and I were younger, my dad would turn in the burner on and hover our hands over it (close enough to feel the heat) and he would say “This is hot, it will hurt. Feel it? It’s hot!” And him getting us close to the stove helped with our fears. (Sorta, my brother is still scared of the stove and oven even though he is 16) but it taught us not to touch it, but don’t be scared of it.

    Also, one more thing.

    My mom: your so lazy! Go outside!
    Me: okay, I’m going to go for a walk.
    My mom: Don’t go too far! Be careful for strangers! Be back by 5:30! Don’t go off the path! Be careful while running! Take your older brother with you! Bring your phone so I can contact you!

    This is why I dont go outside, I can’t go outside.

  13. I’m not allowed outside for more than 10 minutes because my dad is worried I will get kidnapped… I’ve been doing martial arts for 4 years and I know how to kill someone instantly.

  14. Spent my youth wandering smoldering hot desert sands, barefoot, alone. When that wasn't happening, my wandering happened in the forest (also alone). On top of that I rode motorcycles and even raced. I'm grateful for all of it. To quote Dune, "Fear is the mind mind killer."

  15. I love this video, actually all of these suggestions help the decision making skill of childreb to improve. For example when I was a young teen, I once super glued my fingers by mistake, I freaked out, I even thought to cut my skin as a solution, it would grow back anew without glue on it 😂

  16. Reminded me my mom let me take flying lessons and solo a plane at age 17. I think she was terribly frightened but didnt let on.

  17. I remember a childhood friend and I would take turns burning ourselves with a magnifying glass. We couldn't understand how it worked. And another time another friend of mine shot me in the face with an airsoft shotgun. good times

  18. "The Most effective way to keep children safe is to give them a little taste of danger." yep! they understand better the possible consequences

  19. Even though I find this a good talk, I can only imagine some parents going to their kids after watching this video and supergluing their fingers together. Like I'm sure this is happening

  20. Parents these days are way too protective and kind. When people get into the real world theyll be lost and scared and fearful all the time. I hate these social groups and white people that say you shouldnt do this and that

  21. Ensuring kids are in a safe restraint device is especially important in a vehicle. using a car seat and booster seat for their appropriate age and weight can significantly reduce the risks of dying in a car accident

  22. When I was younger I was climbing a tree and one of the branches was rotted and gave out when I grabbed it and did fell onto my back onto some boards and fell right next to one with nails on it facing up

  23. 4:30 What he's saying is reasonable, but does not address the possibility the "top five things parents are worried about", and therefore educate their children about, reduces the probability of those things occurring, resulting in them NOT being on the list of the top "five things in America children are actually dying of". I'd like to see educated correlation between the two lists.
    But yeah, as a kid I licked 9v batteries, played with sticks-and-string "bow and arrows" (which never really worked), climbed trees, and stayed out til the streetlights came on. And I'm cool with my kids doing the same. So long as they stay out of that wooded area where creepy people lurk. And don't give out personal information. And wear their seatbelts.
    Not ironically, I got up in the middle of typing this to answer the door. My daughter's friends, asking if she could go out to play. "Go, get outside," I told her. "Go play."

  24. If you never learn to deal with these situations, they become more dangerous, so not teaching children these core aspects of life could result in much more harmful events to happen later in their life

  25. Very true, I observed 3rd world children from the block and saw that they were sharp and could easily out smart an indoor child with sarcasm, jokes with double meanings, psychologically manipulating indoor kids for personal goals and over all independence as well as strong social skills when seen interacting with others.

  26. I had to have my right forearm amputated due to a drunk driver striking the car I was a passenger in just so he could get another drink. I am amazed everyday how adaptable my body is. When he spoke about super gluing fingers together I knew immediately what his point is. The human body can adapt. It is the human mind that has a limit. Adapting to new limitations was not so difficult. My mind adapting to the knowledge that I was worthless as a fellow human being is not something I want to force my brain to accept and adapt to. Having raised a girl and a boy was a chance to revel in my own childhood again. I laughed when they fell once I could see they were not hurt. I am glad I encouraged them to play outside. I am glad they learned from me to speak with a stranger in line at Walmart when tensions would be greater. I am glad I also taught them to be grateful for the opportunity to slow down to wonder if they are stuck in line if there is something Divine keeping them from harm out in the world. My friend and I were on our way to a recovery event when the drunk driver hit us. Something Divine kept me alive throughout the most horrific experience of my life thus far. I say let the children play. Learning respect for our fellow human beings is the most Divine intervention there is.

  27. Fear is the space experience is not the more you do something the less your afraid if you’ve never done something of course your a little anxious about it but when you do it you realize nothing bad happened and your not afraid or maybe your still a little scared but now you know you weren’t hurt and it was a little fun at least

  28. This guy is on to something. Every year I had to take chemistry I was always hoping we'd get to blow something up in class. Needless to say I was very disapointed until I lit my chemistry book on fire.

  29. When I was really little they would tell me not to touch the hot pan once

    If I didn’t listen I was learning the hard way.

  30. I do all 5 of these things regularly…since I was like 5. I've never thought of these as dangerous. I still do many of these things on a daily and weekly basis. gluing my fingers together-what else are you supposed to do with left-over glue!! And I thought making bombs in a bag was fun, not dangerous because I did that with 2 yr olds at a summer camp recently… These things are more fun than dangerous. I guess it's how you look at it though.

  31. I did all manner of crazy things as a young girl. I had only boys in my neighborhood, so I wasn’t about to let them show me up. As a teacher, I can tell you we’re raising a generation of wimps.

  32. Craziest stunt? My cousin and I did aerial photography by climbing to the top of 3-tiered high tension wire tower. The wires were long gone, but the rusting towers remained.

  33. I've said this for years.
    When did children suddenly evolve to have legs that were incapable of walking and bicycling to get somewhere?

  34. The reason that the number one fears of parents are not actual high threats are BECAUSE of the caution of parents about these things.

    The premise of this speech is not fully thought out.

  35. I grew up climbing walnut and apple trees to read. Trees were my friends, my shelter, my safe place to be alone for a while.
    I used to climb apple trees with a pillowcase and pick all of the apples. I miss those days now that my body can't climb anymore.

  36. I taught day care and I had some magnets that I let the kids play with. they would pinch your fingers and fast. Not a harm but a great way to get a habit of hand awareness.Lots of stuff will pinch you that fast but take a finger off.

  37. I remember trying to clibe a tree pretend it was mountain that's was super snowy I touched the first branch and my mom told me "get off you'll hurt yourself". I have know Idea what's it like to climb a tree but I have always wanted to.

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