Knowing When to ‘Step Back’



This article is contributed by: MindChamps PreSchool


How to Let Your Children Flourish


As parents we are constantly confronted with images of children in danger in the media, in reports of childhood accidents, abuse and neglect. These images are distressing and anxiety inducing. It is little wonder that parents can develop an over-protective attitude toward their children in their quest to keep them safe from all these dangers.


The “Sometimes Risky” Physical Nature of Early Childhood Learning


Preschool children interact with the world in a very physical way, exploring their environment and practising physical mastery.


This physical mastery has a strong connection to their self-esteem. All parents who have witness their baby taking those first tottering steps will know how filled with self-pride and excitement a child is at the accomplishment.


Preschool children need the opportunity to physically master their world, because this sets up their beliefs about their ability to master other obstacles and challenges in their lives.


However, this does not mean that children are the best judges of the risk involved in any activity or that parents should not be cautious. The trick is to be able to balance, as a parent, the need to allow children to try and fail – with a few bumps and bruises along the way – and prevent them from experiencing serious physical harm.


Every parent knows that ‘heart in your throat’ fear of watching your pre-schooler about to tumble over!


Over-Protective or an Advocate?


Protecting children from the consequences of their actions may be essential when there is real physical or psychological danger involved, but most of the time, our over-protective urges are triggered as much by a fear of ‘failure’ as by a fear of physical danger. By never allowing children to fail, we deny them the lessons which will enable them to cope with failure.


Professor Alan Snyder of Sydney University’s Centre for the Mind goes further. In his book, What Makes a Champion! he writes:


Surprisingly, what emerged from our research is the possible necessity of overcoming adversity as a preparation for being a champion, even adversity created by oneself, say in setting goals beyond reach.


Pre-schoolers will, if left to their own devices, constantly set goals which are ‘beyond reach’. How else, for example, would a child ever learn to walk – or talk? Overcoming adversity – solving problems, learning from mistakes – this is how human beings learn and grow. Over-protective parenting children denies them this growth opportunity. As parents, some of the most difficult tasks of all are not the things we do, but the things we don’t do.


What is safe and acceptable will always be a bone of contention between parents and children, but the important thing is for parents to realise that sometimes they just need to stand back and let go.



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