Anyone else’s children testing their physical limits and abilities right now? I love watching them learn and grow, but there are definitely times I’m holding my breath and trying not to interfere as I watch them do what they need to do.
Do you ever find yourself questioning yourself and whether you should just sit back and observe or actually intervene?
When T was younger we were at the park with him and an aunt of mine. T and I knew what he was capable of as he climbed and swung all over the playground structures. My aunt didn’t have the same knowledge, this was new to her and she was constantly jumping up and worrying about his abilities to maneuver the structure, often causing him to question his own, which could have potentially caused him to be injured.
Could he get hurt? Yes. But climbing and swinging was somethign he knew he was able to do, he had built up the ability to do just this.
I’m writing this shortly after I watched E climb their playset on her own, something she wasn’t able to do a few short months ago. She did that as I was weeding the garden. Part of me wanted to run to her aid, which she clearly didn’t need. If she had looked around for me, as if she may need assistance, or I had not seen her perform these actions many times before I would have most definitely dropped everything and ran to be in closer proximity in case the need for me should arise. But that wasn’t the case.
On holiday E, V, and I found an amazing playground, the best we’ve found yet. The great thing about this particular playground was that there were traditional playground items, a playscape, a small trail for children that was protected from wildlife that could be dangerous for young children, a music area, and it was inclusive so that children with a variety of disabilities could use or feel more comfortable.
There were parts of this playground that allowed the girls to challenge their skills in a safer manner; such as logs to walk on that had a handrail available. Being that this was a different playground and many new materials, I stayed closer than I normally would at home. This allowed them to call for me when needed, which they did when they wanted to walk on the logs and, even with the handrail, the logs were too far apart for their own comfort. So I supplied my hand to act as a second, stable point to hold–just enough assistance.
Are there times they, like T, attempt to do something they aren’t quite ready for yet and don’t call out for aid? Of course, they are learning what they are capable of, and to do that they must test themselves and the limits. Times like this I want them to learn natural consequences, but in such a way that they won’t get a false sense of security and won’t have serious harm. So if it’s a very slight fall, I don’t interfere as this is how they learn. If it’s something not slight, I will often explain that it’s too much as this time and we should attmept it again at a later date. If I were to “catch” or do something similiar, it could provide a false sense of security having them belive it’s something they are capable of doing, when in reality they could get seriously injured. I’m all about confidence, but if they believe they are capable of something that they didn’t actually do, this could cause them harm if they attempted to do it without assistance–but they wouldn’t know this if they didn’t “fail”. Situations like that is when I intervene.
The thing is I want them to challenge themselves and learn what they are capable of and then, when the time it right, push those limits. But I, as the parent, also need to know when to observe and when to step in a protect.
Do you have any stories of following your intuition, either sitting and observing or intervening?
*Update: Second time visiting the stepping logs and both E and V felt comfortable walking them without the extra assistance.