Small children should play with knives, says Bear Grylls – and Ben Fogle agrees

TV adventurers Bear Grylls and Ben Fogle encourage their kids to play with knives and fire – and think all parents should do the same

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We should encourage our children to play with knives, says TV adventurer Bear Grylls. And fellow celeb-dad adventurer Ben Fogle agrees.

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Bear, who is Chief Scout of The Scout Association, says he believes playing with sharp blades is “empowering” for small children, as it teaches them how to do something dangerous safely.

And Ben, dad to Ludo, 7, and Iona, 5, says he lets his children play with knives, as well as fire – and snakes!  

Sharp penknives and playing with fire

Bear, dad to Jesse, 10, Marmaduke, 8, and Huckleberry, 6, believes a “mega-sharp penknife” is a great gift for a child – even though his youngest son cut himself on his.

“Sometimes in life, we get cut,” Bear told Radio Times in a 2014 interview to promote his Channel 4 series The Island,. “My 6-year-old recently cut himself on a knife, and came in with blood pouring everywhere but, you know what? He’s not cut himself again.

“He has learnt how to handle a knife. I had my first penknife at 6.”

Both Ben and Bear agree that letting children handle dangerous things teaches them “how to embrace and manage risk”. 

“Children should take risks,” Ben recently told the Daily Mail. “My son loves playing with snakes –  it’s definitely something we encourage.

“And we make fire. One of the reasons that we are all so obsessed with fire is that when we are children we’re told to stay clear of fire: ‘Don’t take that match! Fire is dangerous!’

“If you start from an early age and it doesn’t become something unknown, it loses its lustre and suddenly fire… loses its mystery.’

Teach them to do something dangerous – safely

Obviously, neither celeb dad is advocating throwing a bunch of sharp tools and burning branches at your children and leaving them to it. Their point is that parents should be showing their children how to handle these things safely.

“If you teach kids to dodge risk,” says Bear, “you totally disempower them. You empower kids by teaching them how to do something dangerous – safely.

“Two hundred years ago, I doubt there was a 6-year-old in Britain who couldn’t start a fire with a knife and a flint. It would be like a 6-year-old today using a fork to pick up a fishfinger. Kids were taught to be resourceful and practical.”

Cynics may point out that Bear’s knives-for-children evangelism may have something to do with the fact that he has his own range of knives for sale on his website. But the adventurer is adamant that kids can only benefit from learning to wield a blade safely. 

“When I say to budding adventurers, ‘Listen, a blunt penknife is a dangerous knife; make sure it’s really sharp’, the kids’ faces light up,” he says. “Like all kids, they want a mega-sharp penknife. Great, but teach them to respect it and use it properly.”

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MadeForMums Writer – Jessica Gibb

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