I try so hard not to be a 'cotton wool wrapping' mother. You know the mother (she is probably hidden inside you, she is in me); won't let her child climb up the high tower at the park as its too dangerous and they might fall and get hurt; won't let her child ride their bike down the hill because its too dangerous and they might go too fast and fall and get hurt; won't let her child climb a tree because its too dangerous and they might fall and hurt themselves. On it goes.
Do you ever stop to think about what messages we are sending our children each time we tell them to stop, its too dangerous? I know we do it out of fear, as we don't want them to get hurt, but are we putting our own fears on them? Scary ground that one! Do they simply see it that Mummy and Daddy don't trust their awesome stunt skills, and don't have the confidence in their ability to pull it off?
Its not easy though is it? Watching your most precious small person doing something that could potentially hurt them. Its hard to stand back and watch them take risks. Biting your tongue. Turning your head the other way just in case there is carnage. Stopping yourself rushing forward and removing them from the situation altogether.
I like to look at the positives of this, in what are we teaching our children by allowing them to take risks? We are teaching them to learn what their limits are. We are teaching them confidence. We are teaching them persistence, to keep trying until they get it right. We are teaching them to take risks in life - when its OK to take to a risk and when its not. We are teaching them consequences for their actions. We are giving them opportunities where we can be proud of them, high five them and praise them for being awesome. We are filling their love tanks. All the sort of things that in the long run of life, help them develop solid life skills.
This weekend the hubby built the boys a ramp to ride their bikes over. I bit my tongue. Its too dangerous I thought. Then I thought, whats the worst that can happen. A trip to A&E with a broken bone? Done that before, no biggie. A few gravel grazes and a bit of blood. Yup, daily occurrence here. So I kept my mouth shut and watched the first few attempts through squinted eyes. Then I got on my bike, and tried to show them how to get airborne. Then I found myself coaching them on how to get the most air. I got caught up in their excitement and really got behind encouraging them. And lets be honest, all the while praying like crazy they won't hurt themselves, but I kept my fears hidden, and openly supported them. And had fun doing it.
Danger Mouse, my three year old, was launching himself airborne over that ramp in no time. He fell a few times, and each time we encouraged him to pick himself back up and try again. Sprat, who is 5, wasn't so confident. But by day two, after some more coaching, he was going over it with both feet on the pedals and landing it standing up. By day two, Danger Mouse, was jumping it on the scooter - but that's another story.
Give your children a chance to take risks. Allow them the freedom to learn consequences for their actions, in a controlled environment, where mum and dad are there to supervise (and pick up the pieces). Give them the freedom to climb a tree, slide down the biggest slide in the park and ride their bike down a big hill, putting your own fears behind you, and not on them. Your little person will probably surprise you in their ability.
And if they do crash, and there is a bit of blood, crying and a trip to A&E - what an awesome story they are going to have to tell their friends ....