My baby’s pushing a year old, and she’s not the most physical kid you ever saw. She can get around by rolling, but her attempts at crawling look like she’s trying to do the breast stroke. She’s generally content to sit in one place with toys strewn around her.
So we were a little surprised when she came home from daycare with a shiner. She’d rolled herself into a corner and tried to get out face-first. And every time I look at that sweet, gorgeous, bruised face, I want to hold her close and never let her go. It’s an impulse I can’t give in to, for both of our sakes.
So far, my baby’s been a good match for me. She’s mostly sedentary so the risk of her getting hurt is on the low side, and in that way, my anxiety stays low, too. The problem is, that’s not the ideal way for a parent to manage her anxiety. My kid’s got to start exploring more, and I’ve got to encourage that.
Until now, I hadn’t realized that I wasn’t encouraging it. I just thought, “Well, she’s not that interested,” and I didn’t push it. Like I said, it fit perfectly into my own feelings about wanting to keep her safe and secure.
Like most parents (well, like most people), we can find ways to stay in our own comfort zones. And often, we don’t even realize that’s what we’re doing. But it’s important to examine whether your own fears are holding your children back. It’s so easy to rationalize it: They’re happy where they are; they don’t seem to care about trying more things, or going more places.
But exploring–with its potential for getting hurt–is an important part of the process of growth and development. For one thing, kids need to learn that they can get back up when they fall down. (Perhaps not literally. In my case, it’s more like, she needs to keep rolling along after she goes into the bookshelf.) And for another thing, parents need to know their children aren’t breakable. That’s how you defeat anxiety: You face the fears about the big scary world your kid is going to encounter, and then you keep moving, just like we teach them to do.
I guess my point is, experience can come with a price. Sometimes kids will get hurt. In fact, they most definitely will. But they’ll recover, and so, as parents, will we.
Baby crying photo available from Shutterstock
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Last reviewed: 13 Dec 2012