Last Wednesday, my older friend Clayton climbed to the fork on the vine that hangs from the large tree in the play yard. He called down to me with a huge smile on his face and after I offered congratulations. He slid down the vine and ran off to play with other friends. Clayton had spent the last year watching the older children climb this vine (they are now in kindergarten). He had spent the last year attempting the climb -- climbing, falling off and most importantly picking himself up off the ground so he could try again. This is not to say there weren't tears (there were) and that I didn't intervene (I did by offering hugs and encouragement when needed). But I truly believe that without Clayton having the chance to pick himself up after falling off the vine, he would not have had the self-confidence to climb to the top. A true self confidence that now lives in Clayton.
The tendency to pad and protect our children from every harm both big and small is a mistake (I know I've done it). The tendency to want to intervene thinking we are going to spare them hurt (I've done that too) is misplaced. If we are never given the chance to pick ourselves up after we fall how do we know that we can -- that we have the resilience to overcome life's obstacles. I am fortunate that in my work with children at LifeWays I get to witness not only the pleasurable satisfaction that children have when they have mastered a skill but all the work that leads up to that moment too.