I can do it!
This post was originally published on our blog in 2017, and has been revised and republished for you to enjoy!
A few weeks ago I watched my youngest child navigate the climbing structure at a local playground. She is 2.8years and is known in our family as the “wild child.” She is adventurous and risk taking and way more capable than people (including me sometimes) give her credit for.
As she approached this climbing structure, she quietly assessed it. She looked for the lowest point to be able to pull herself up. She moved herself around the bottom of the structure before climbing higher and higher.
At the end of the video you hear her ask for help and while the mum in me naturally wanted to rush over and lift her down, I fought the urge and instead offered her some suggestions to help herself. She was pretty chuffed with herself when the suggestion to reach out for the other rope worked and she got down by herself!
While it can be challenging to step back and allow children to struggle, or to challenge themselves, or to do something scary or risky, it is vital that we develop the ability to do this. This often means knowing a child - I knew how much she enjoyed physical challenge (and still does now - even at 6!), and was able to be present while giving her space and time to figure it out herself, only offering help or guidance when she asked for it.
When we give children opportunities to assess risk - they typically make pretty good decisions, and the more opportunities they have to do this in a supported way, the better they will become at assessing risk when they are older and we are not around to do it with them.
When we give children the opportunity to challenge themselves - they feel a sense of accomplishment and learn to trust in their own abilities.
When we show children that we are there for them, but that we trust them to do things independently, we strengthen our relationships with children.
Share with us in the comments - do you find it easy or hard to trust children to "do it themselves"?
For more resources on supporting risk, check these out: