Anyone remember what it was like to be a kid? Some parents have been on this kick for a while, but some are finally coming back around to it, the idea of letting kids do a few dangerous things throughout their lives. Unfortunately we can’t just let them go riding their bikes around the neighborhood from dusk till dawn anymore unless you happen to know everyone in your neighborhood and trust them implicitly. But letting them do other things that might be considered kind of dangerous and don’t involve them playing with all manners of safety and guidelines seems like it might actually be the best idea.
Kids need to learn how to fall to get back up.
This doesn’t mean to let them suffer grievous injury and then tell them to go walk it off. In fact it’s not even advising a parent to tell the kid to rub some dirt on it and keep playing. Tend to your kid, make sure their wounds are taken care of, put a bandage on it if need be, but let them go afterward. Encourage them to keep going, to take the skinned knees, elbows, and other minor wounds and get after it.
It’s certainly better than telling them that giving up after one fall is going to be okay. Where would some of the greatest athletes and risk-takers in the world be if they gave up the first time they fell? Where would the world’s greatest minds be if they were discouraged after their first failure? Kids need to learn how to fall in many different ways to learn what it’s like to get back up, dust themselves off, and keep going. If they’re not then the process of moving forward becomes something they won’t learn until it becomes absolutely necessary, and therefore too late.
Let them fail.
This doesn’t imply that you shouldn’t be there to monitor them and encourage them. But let them fail. Don’t tell a kid that a failure is okay, let them feel bad about it, and then suggest what they might have done differently. In truth failure is not the end of the world, but it’s a learning experience that you don’t need to minimize in order to make your kid feel better. Let them know that yes, they messed up, they fell short of the mark. But then let them know that there’s a way around it, a solution to the problem they have yet to solve.
And then let them do it. Let them figure it out. Give help when and where it’s needed, but don’t do it for them. Learning is what a kid needs to do, and giving them help every step of the way is not healthy. Does anyone remember their parents wanting to hover over them and guide everything they did? Those that do should be able to relay that it wasn’t all that helpful. It’s important to be there, to be able to stand up and help your child when it’s needed. But don’t assume that they’ll need you for everything when they hit a certain age.
Let them be kids, let them be adventurous, and let them learn in the many different ways we did when we were young. Our parents were there right? They were around, and if not then someone was who could inspire us, teach us, and remind us that we made a mistake and could fix it somehow. A kid has to be kid or they’ll grow up being little more than a mindless automaton waiting to be told what to do.
Let your kids get dirty, let them get hurt occasionally, and let them find out what it’s like to fail. They’ll learn, and as a result they’ll grow. The one thing they won’t do is quit. If you think differently you might not have kids.