9 ways to let teenagers take positive risks this summer, according to an expert

Help boost your teen's independence and confidence this summer with these small, manageable risks.

Two teenage girls walking side by side
(Image credit: Alamy)

It’s important to let your teenager take small risks to help them learn new skills, and this summer is the perfect time to do so, according to one expert.

Bringing up teenagers isn’t always easy. Not grown up enough to look after themselves, but no longer young children - it's a constant battle of offering support as they fight for more independence. We've seen that many teenagers are drawn riskier behaviour - despite being part of the anxious generation. But, how can you allow them to strike out more, without raising your own anxiety

Well, one thing you can do is let your teen take some small, healthy, and positive risks each day – with six weeks off school, or maybe more if your teen is in the middle of their exams, why not start this summer?  

Regardless of how old your child is, Dr. Mary O’Kane, a lecturer in psychology and education tells The Irish Times that you should “let them do something [today] that they were not able to do yesterday.

Of course, all children and teenagers are different, and what those risks may look like will depend on how mature they are, as well as their personality and the general circumstances. 

9 manageable risks for teenagers

  • 1. Let younger teens stay home alone for a short while – you might find the NSPCC’s advice helpful here. 
  • 2. Let your teens run errands, like going to the shop on their own.
  • 3. Let them go out and meet friends on their own – without tracking their phone.
  • 4. Let them use public transport on their own.
  • 5. Encourage them towards adventure sports and other challenging activities – you could even join them!
  • 6. Take your teen or pre-teen (and their mates) to an adventure playground.
  • 7. Consider indoor challenges too, such as a drama camp.
  • 8. Encourage them not to rely on their phones and screens all day.
  • 9. Encourage them to interact independently with strangers (e.g. waiters, service staff, cashiers) when you’re out as a family.

In related news, giving teens ‘space and opportunity’ to be independent helps them thrive, teens who display this one important quality during adolescent friendships go on to be great parents, and new research has linked video games to teen psychosis. Meanwhile, if you’re tired of one-word answers, you could try these expert-led 25 teen conversation starters.

Freelance writer

Adam is an experienced writer who regularly covers the royal family and celebrity news for the likes of Goodto, The List, The Metro, and Entertainment Daily. However, you can also find Adam covering relationships, mental health, pet care, and contributing to titles such as Creative Bloq.