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Family Skills
18 October 2023

Three Risk Profiles To Help You Respond to Challenges

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Responding to risk and challenging young people healthily is an ever changing pursuit as your young people grow and change. This versatile tool will be valuable for your whole life as a parent!


At Risky Kids we make use of three distinct Risk Profiles to help us quickly respond to different behaviour types. Young people will respond to different situations with these behaviours. Some are helpful, others are not.

  • Identifying Risk Profiles lets you respond quickly. You can’t just have a blanket response because neither will your Risky Kids.
  • If you don’t respond to these behaviours the right way, you might find your young people losing resilience, instead of gaining it.
  • Getting it right is easier than you think though! We’ve got three tools to help with each of them.

Our Three Risk Profiles

At Risky Kids we’ve learned that young people respond to challenges in different ways. They can either be Risk Averse, Reckless or Appropriate and these will fluctuate between situations.

  • Risk Averse – Responding with fear and a reluctance to take on challenges.
  • Risk Reckless – Overestimating, or not even considering, the ability to navigate a challenge.
  • Risk Appropriate – A balanced approach, with courage and fear keeping us grounded, but taking action.

Each of these three profiles can emerge from a young person based on so many factors. We never say a Risky Kid “IS” Risk Averse, just their behaviour or we lock ourselves into responses. Just the same, they’re not steps, but a sliding scale. Risk Averse behaviour has too much fear, Risk Reckless has too much guts! Risk Appropriate is the balance of the two which we hope to strike.

One time I had a parent approach me with their young person in the park while I was training and struck up a conversation about parkour. They proceeded to tell me how they had signed their young son up to soccer to build his resilience because she felt it was low. The whole time this young lad was tugging on my shirt trying to tell me about his day though! Whilst he might have been risk averse physically and in team environments, socially he was the opposite, possibly a bit risk reckless!

The Impacts of These Profiles Left Unchecked

Knowing these profiles is just the start. We should work on guiding young people away from Risk Averse and Reckless behaviour towards Risk Appropriate every chance we can.

  • Risk Averse – Whilst fear can be a useful guide, we can’t allow it to control us or we’ll miss opportunities.
  • Risk Reckless – Poor judgement paired with action can result in serious harm.
  • Risk Appropriate – Balancing the two means growth, success and occasional failure and pain, but often manageable!

Risk Averse behaviour drives us away from challenge due to fear or poor judgement. Young people might not be able to see value because of their limited experience, or misconceptions. This results in more inexperience around failure, conflict, stress and discomfort, but also around success, triumph, growth and self worth.

Risk Reckless behaviour is often characterised by limited planning and poor reflection. In these cases there’s often deep and complex needs at play, and the risk taking is a way to meet those needs. It’s never as simple as “seeking attention”, but it might look this way. These young people can often walk down self destructive pathways.

Risk Averse behaviour lets us face challenges head on, reading them with clarity, planning for them, reflecting on them and balancing our needs against the situation. Not every challenge should be faced, nor are we ready for them all. Learning this skill set means growth, success and deep self worth.

Guiding Young People To Be Risk Appropriate

Both Risk Averse and Risk Reckless should just be seen as too much of a good thing! The objective is to use guidance, not force, to help adjust the dials. Not to eliminate fear or courage, but to bring them together.

  • Risk Averse behaviour should be guided with negotiation. You can’t permit avoidance, but you must acknowledge the challenges faced.
  • Risk Reckless behaviour is complex. You must understand the needs the young person has and meet them, building trust.
  • Risk Appropriate behaviour just needs nurturing! Find opportunities and let your Risky Kid chase challenges.

Risk Averse Response – Help your Risky Kid to face down their fears using a tool we call Negotiation. When you see hesitation and aversion to situations you feel are valuable to navigate, acknowledge your young person’s fear and emotions, then help them to identify the value in overcoming the challenge, and create a plan.

Risk Reckless Response – When your Risky Kid is overly reckless, try and understand what their needs are. Are they seeking a thrill? Do they feel cooped up? Has it been the best way to get your attention? Once you know their needs you can use the same negotiation skill from above, but start by acknowledging their needs, then discuss a “Risky Not Reckless” approach instead.

Risk Appropriate – These young people just need to be given the right community to thrive in. If they can balance these approaches, they just need ample opportunity to practise this approach. Any time their behaviour begins to stray toward the Averse or Reckless it will only take a small nudge to get them back on track.


These three risk profiles are just one of the many ways our team works with young people around risk and challenge. It helps them to identify in the moment what tools will best suit to help the young person find their own way to success.

If you’d like to learn more, chat with our team at any time about the program and their tools!

Richard Williams

Richard Williams

Risky Kids Founder, Director of Programming

Richard Williams is a fitness industry consultant, gym owner, business coach and professional stunt actor with more than a decade of experience in the health and fitness industry. With an education in psychology and criminology, Richard blended life experience as a fitness industry consultant with Spartan Race, gym owner, elite-obstacle racer, ultra-runner and professional stunt actor to create the Risky Kids program.

Richard has a passion for enacting meaningful social change through all avenues of health and wellbeing and believes that obstacles are the way. Some of Richard’s key achievements include:

  • Key consultant/coordinator Spartan Race/Tough Mudder/Extreme Endurance
  • OCR World Championship Finalist –  Team & Solo (2015)
  • OCR World Championship Silver Medallist – Team Endurance (2018)
  • Professional film and television stunt performer for 15 years

Considered one of Australia’s foremost experts in the fields of fitness, wellbeing and behavioural science, Richard is frequently in demand as a guest speaker for relevant government and non-
government bodies and organisations. Speaking engagements centred on the success of the Risky Kids program, philosophy and approach have included:

  • Expert speaker/panellist Sports & Camp; Recreation Victoria and Outdoors Victoria forums
  • Closing expert speaker at the Australian Camps Association National Conference
  • Expert speaker at the National Fitness Expo, FILEX