Saturday, 1 December 2012

Taking Risks

Taking risks is a personality trait that is seen (or not seen) from a very young age. Children who are risk takers will try new skills over and over until they perfect it. Observers will watch a new skill, internalize it, then attempt it when they can perform it accurately. One isn't better than the other, it's just something to be aware of.

Phoenix is a risk taker. She'll attempt things over and over, even if the attempt isn't perfect. In many ways, this is a great skill to have. It means she'll attempt new words even if she can't say them exactly right. It means she'll try to climb new play structures (sometimes with support).

Lately Phoenix has been becoming interested in walking down the stairs. We took the baby gates off months ago because she was so competent crawling up and down them safely. However, her two friends at her day home walk up and down the stairs independently and Phoenix is trying to model their behaviour. So for the last few weeks we have offered Phoe our hand when she walks down the stairs so she can practise walking down them forward ( rather than crawling down backwards). This morning she took one step down on her own before I caught her and asked her to go back up to the playroom. This afternoon I was making dinner down stairs while Phoe played with her iPad upstairs in the playroom.

She was halfway down the stairs before I realized that she was walking down herself.

It's a good thing I am a behaviour teacher, because I was able to keep my cool and rush over to hold her hand the rest of the way down.

It is wonderful that she is learning a new skill and practising it until she really gets it. But man, is it ever scary to let your child take risks like that. I mean, where's the line between taking risks and breaking your neck?

I want her to take chances in her learning and to not be afraid to fail. I see the most progress in my students who are able to take risks with their learning. It is such a great quality to have in a learner and I am thrilled that Phoenix has naturally cultivated this. But where as a parent do you draw the line? I would never have let her walk down those stairs on her own, but she showed me that, at least tonight, she was able to do it.

I think I might have to give her more opportunities to show me what she can do, but with the safety of mom right in front of her.