Friday, June 08, 2012

Brave Children

Our apartment is about half a mile from a very large playground, and Lucas and I have found ourselves walking over at least once a day.

This morning as I sit and watch Lucas play, I begin to observe the other parents on the playground. I see many of them playing with their child (parents with multiple children are not playing). The parent assists the only child with difficult obstacles, follows them from activity to activity and engages with other children on their own child's behalf.

I think it's great when parents are wholeheartedly involved in their children's play. Heck, even halfheartedly is good too. I am often that parent who willingly follows my child around, awkwardly trying to stay out of the way of other children in order to ensure he is safe and having fun.

But what if my involvement with Lucas' play is preventing him from learning, communicating, participating or problem solving with other children? What if I am keeping him from being adventurous and brave on his own?

These thoughts go through mind as I watch the parents dumbly follow their children around. Many of the kids play as if their parent is not there, only until they need something from that parent; a foot up, a hand hold or dialoguing with another child.

I am not suggesting that assisting our children and teaching or supporting them is something that should stop, but what if we let go a little? What if we let our child figure it out for himself? What would happen if our little ones learned to talk to other children without us interceding for them?

Some of Lucas' bravest, proudest moments have come about when I am not guiding him. He made the choice to give up his only toy so that little girl would feel included. He waited in line, because that is what he observed the other children doing. He climbed that ladder himself, because I wasn't there to lift each footstep for him.

And to see the pride and bravery on his face when he realizes I've observed these moments from steps away. It sticks with a mother's heart.

Isn't it better to teach our children to be independent and brave, than to teach them to constantly look for a "parent"? I want my son to know he can survive and thrive in life, even when there is no one behind him, guiding each footstep. It is my desire for him to learn independence and leadership that comes from within. It feels good to know your parents believe in you... But it feels even better to know you believe in yourself.


  1. This is something I struggle with too. I try to consciously stand back and let him learn lessons on his own. Sometimes it results in a bruise, or hurt feelings, but I'm close by to talk to him and help him process through what went wrong. Helping him learn that maybe jumping off the bed isn't a good idea. Or a lack of toy sharing means others won't share with him.

    It's a balance. Learning when to step in, and when to let him learn on his own.

  2. I think this is almost every (good) mother's struggle! I love letting my boys be adventurous and try new things. I love watching huge smiles spread across their faces when they've accomplished something they couldn't (or wouldn't) previously do. Those are awesome moments! But there is something to be said for saftey. I watched Henry at 1 1/2 fall through the railings of a play structure. He hit his head twice on the metal railings as he made his way to the bark dust. There is NOTHING that can quite prepare you for those few but excruciatingly long moments it takes to get to your child. That being said, you just have to know YOUR child and make the balance between safety and fun. If the fall is not that big, I don't worry about it. I don't know. Maybe I'm a worry wart. Perhaps I'm scarred from that previous experience. But I don't think it's a bad thing to guard your kids from bad falls. I also don't think it's bad to let them go for it. :) Trust your instinct for your child! No one knows him like you do!

  3. Oh Steph...the thought of you seeing that just breaks my heart. Lucas has had spills, and you can't erase the images from your mind. Poor you! And poor sweet Henry.
    Thank you for sharing your heart. Your words of wisdom are rich and warmly received.