“Be careful!” Stop and think about that phrase—and how often you say it to your daughter. The intention behind those two words is, of course, full of love for her and a desire to keep her out of harm’s way, but the effect could be that your girl errs too much on the side of caution, becomes overly inhibited, and misses out on some of the greatest adventures and opportunities life has to offer.
One of those great opportunities? A skinned knee.
It might sound crazy but think back to the times when you were younger and skinned a knee (or an elbow, or maybe even landed yourself in a short-term cast). There’s a reason why you might remember those moments so vividly—in these times of trial when we’re pushed to endure a little more than usual, we develop strength.
Not convinced? Check out these four reasons to think of a skinned knee as a badge of honor.
- It’s a sign that in the face of a challenge, she said, “Maybe I can!”
This kind of optimistic thinking is exactly the quality that will lead her to be a go-getter in life and to have the possibility-thinking skills employers are looking for. Building her courage and confidence will give her more fun and fulfilling experiences now and will benefit her big time down the road.
- A healing scrape teaches resilience
Our bodies are pretty incredible at bouncing back after minor injuries. Sure, there’s a process—it might hurt, there might be a scab for a while—but in the end, her scraped knee heals. This is a great parallel to the process we need to go through to recover from other disappointments and setbacks in life. Seeing herself heal physically might help her see her own strength and know that she’s capable of overcoming challenges.
- Her friends will see her differently
Falling down, scraping her knee, and getting back up again is a story of bravery—one that often comes with the street (or, in her case, playground!) cred. Why? Because when the going gets tough, we want to know our friends can stick with us and weather the storm. Her scraped knee sends a subtle signal to your girl and her friends that she’s got what it takes to handle whatever the world throws at her.
- She’s choosing the “better” risks
Kids and teens gravitate like magnets toward intense, exhilarating experiences. It’s just how they’re chemically wired. Experts say that when we encourage girls to take healthy risks—say, hitting the local skate park or going whitewater rafting with friends—we’re fulfilling that need in them and making it less likely that they’ll turn toward the more unhealthy risks that could have serious, lifelong consequences.
So the next time you’re tempted to tell your girl to be careful, remember that those words could orient her toward avoiding risks in general—even those that could benefit her. Instead, consider telling her to be smart (there is, after all, a difference between trying out some new surfing moves and skydiving without a parachute!) and, most of all, to have fun. And if she does get a scraped knee or another fairly minor injury along the way? Know that she’ll be stronger and better off for it.