Friday, November 2, 2012

ice in the stomach

Risk taking should be part of childhood. We learn through the point where we feel challenged. The feeling of having a knot in your stomach is the place where you feel out of your comfort zone. - Rattler Magazine

We all know that feeling that you get when you see your child just about to do something risky.

Your stomach does a little lurch, and you hold your breath without even realising it.   The part of your brain where common sense lives has a little holiday as thoughts of calling out a useless "be careful" or stopping the play altogether take over.  You may already be mentally dialling 000.

Have you ever thought of what the child is thinking at that exact same moment?

Anticipation?  Determination?  Nervousness?  Exhilaration? Excitement?  Fear?  Wonder?  Abandon?  Joy? All of the above?

At the Unwrapping Risk Conference last weekend, Claire Warden shared that in Denmark they actually have a name for this knot in the stomach feeling.  

'Is i maven' translates as 'ice in the stomach' and is seen as a positive emotion and one that both children and adults seek and benefit from.

Wouldn't it be sad, if through our well intentioned desire to keep our children safe, we denied them the chance of experiencing challenges that bought on that incredibly important feeling of 'ice in the stomach'?  

Let's - as parents and as educators - strive to be risk aware and not risk adverse so that children can fulfil their right to a childhood of adventure, challenge, exploration, freedom and risk taking.

For more on risk in early childhood:


  1. Thanks Jen! A term for 'that' feeling that will be easily understood by children. I will be using this with my children from now on. A great way to get them to tune in to messages sent from their body. Something to help them carry out their own analysis of danger and risk assessment! :)

  2. Haha, just the photo of the boy on the milk crates makes my stomach lurch :).
    I remember reading an article about how when we call out warnings to children it causes them to lose focus on what they are doing and do something more dangerous. It's so hard sometimes to NOT say something, but I have to keep making sure I stand back and trust children to know their limits and keep their saftey in mind.

  3. Thanx Jennifer, Love your post and I have shared it on my page, Natural Play for Children. Thanx Maureen

  4. I REALLY struggle with this and never thought I would. I have to remember what a rough and tumble tomboy I was and that my boys deserve to have the same fun. A challenge but one worth mastering

  5. Brings back my childhood memories. Courage is something which can built in a person through these stunts we as a kid pull off.