Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Protecting your child from injury or being overprotective?

It has been a horrendously long time since I last posted on my blog. Always lots to write about, not always the time to write it!
So here we go. My son has be proving himself quite the daredevil lately. Mostly on his bike - I will add a clip of a rather good downhill, with a good crash at the end, when I get to the computer this clip is on! And here it is...

Just yesterday day we had our first tree climbing experience. Well Eli has been climbing trees with his Dad a couple of times a week during their lunch break together while I finish work. So it was really just my first experience tree climbing with Eli. Not that I climbed the tree. I was invited to join him, but at 25 weeks pregnant I decided I'd stay on the ground. Not as climbing fit as I was when pregnant with Eli, teaching multipitch traditional rock climbing at 25 weeks pregnant!

Anyway, I milled around on the ground, trying to be in good 'spotting' positions in case of a fall without looking like I was trying to protect him. I trust his ability to know what he can and can't do. He does push the limits as is good for everyone and yes one day this might have a significant consequence. I believe the consequence is worth it for developing a confidence, skillful person who is aware of his body and what it is capable of.

At quite a young age he climbed to the top of our gate, resting his knees on the top cross bar. The kids up the road who he was trying to watch (most probably join them) came running down yelling that Eli was on the gate. My husband wandered out the sliding door to find him precariously perched. He wandered back inside to get the camera, saying 'You should see this.' As he was out taking photo's and this movie. Myself and a friend who was visiting came outside. As much as we tried to be nonchalant about what we saw, Eli released where he'd put himself, panicked and tumbled over the gate landing flat on his back on the grass. A bit winded and in a bit of shock there were lots of tears, but nothing more. I breathed a sign of relief that he'd gone forward and not backwards onto the concrete!

So, should we have plucked him off as soon as we saw him? Should we have supported him down? Or was what we did ok? The kids walked off in a bit of bewilderment as the realised that we didn't share the panic and fear that they did. Maybe we should have?

Needless to say, since then he has been most careful about what he climbs up! For a while he freaked out when he'd climbed something and wanted down. We continued to refuse to help though we did offer advice and sometimes a spot as he found his way down.

I feel confident and happy in the way we have dealt with Eli's 'sticky situations'. My feelings come from a number of philosophies. Jean Leidloff's, Continuum Concept talks about trusting kids innate ability to keep themselves safe. Also their ability to cope with a bit of pain and suffering and the knowledge that they can come to their parents/caregivers for comfort if they need it. Most of all my belief in Experiential Learning as one of the most powerful types of education. Eli learnt after falling over the fence that there are consequences to climbing past your ability and he hasn't done it since. He pushes the limits and is well aware that there maybe a consequence to doing so. We could not have taught him that more powerfully than through the experiences he's had. Yes, we teach him the danger of the road. Explaining why there was a squashed, dead bird on the road one day was helpful for that lesson! We supervise him when he's using a knife etc, but we don't 'protect' him from these dangers!

There is a risk in everything. To not expose your child to a physical risk is to expose them to the risk of being fearful, scared to put themselves out there and not learn their limits. A bit of physical risk is worth it in my opinion.

Anyway, enough babble from me. Love to hear your thoughts! Anna :)

1 comment:

LoopyNZ said...

Love it! We're so risk-focused these days we forget about all the benefits we're foregoing in the process.