“This may take some time and effort.”

I saw this written on a classroom flag in a school I was visiting recently! The same evening, on my way home from that school I received a newsletter from the surf school I first visited in 2012 and also, curiously, the schedule of classes for 2019 from my yoga teacher.

Boy oh boy, has learning to surf taken me ( so far) some time and effort, and, as for the yoga, well, a lifetime of effort wouldn’t be enough because, while my initial interest was rooted in the physical, I’ve now come to understand some of the emotional and spiritual qualities that regular practice opens up. http://helenabourdillon.com

In my early yoga classes I was deeply aware of my age and certain limitations caused by old injuries and overtraining from years ago, and I definitely felt quite self – conscious about being the only man in the class. My teacher, however, was then, and still is today, a total inspiration as were all the other students with whom I shared the class. They turned out to be of all ages and stages and not remotely interested in my presence or perturbed by it.

Approaching ‘normal’ retirement age ( and with every one of my college year group already drawing their pension) I had also embarked on a mission to learn to surf and, exactly like my yoga experience, no one cared about my back story or my motives, everyone in the class was taken from where they were and helped to progress and improve.

But time and effort were required by the spade load, and it strikes me that the harder you have to try, the more likely you are to feel pleased and proud, and the more the memories of those endeavours bring on associations with feeling good about yourself.

So, when we read about mental health and young people, it seems to me that we could overtake some of the fragility that stalks so many teens and even pre-teens by mollycoddling less and permitting much freer and adventurous play which has the potential to help to build well – being and confidence.

If you are interested in how exposure to normal stresses and strains is vital for future wellness amongst young people, read Jonathan Haidt and Pamela Paresky in the Guardian, Thursday 10th January 2019 or go straight to The Coddling Of the American Mind by Greg Lukianoff. Better still, read Ellen Sandseter and Leif Kennair on the anti-phobic effects of thrilling experiences where they note that children spontaneously seek to add risk to their play which then extends their coping abilities which then empowers them to take on even greater challenges!

So age appropriate ( age adequate) risky play builds resilience and equips young people with the capacity to cope with the stresses and strains of the teenage years and beyond.

Don’t ask if my surfing or yoga are age appropriate risky play activities, but believe me when I say they lead to the most wonderful sense of being well….

Peter Wilson



Here’s some handy links should you wish some further reading.

Jonathan Haidt and Pamela Paresky in the Guardian, Thursday 10th January 2019

‘By mollycoddling our children we’re fuelling mental illness in teenagers.’



Ellen Sandseter and Leif Kennair on the anti-phobic effects of thrilling experiences