Taking Chances During Play

[ 2 ] December 14, 2011 |

It’s a windy but sunny day in early fall, and my son and I slowly approach the gigantic spider web climbing net at Tuckertown Park in South Kingstown. My three year old is the tentative sort, and the conversation goes something like this:

“Come on, Devin. Let’s climb the spider web!”

“No, no, Mommy. I too little.”

“Nah, you’re not too little. You can do it.”

“I too scared, Mommy.”

“What are you scared of?”

“I scared I gonna fall.”

Climbing the Spider WebWell, yeah, kid — you might! I think but, luckily my mouth doesn’t actually say it. I huge feat for me, let me tell ya! I also think, Do I just drop this and lead him to the oh-so-familiar swings or slide? Or do I encourage him to try it, even though the risk of falling is a real one?

I decide to push him a bit more. After all, how else is he going to learn how to climb? Or be confident that he can climb? Or simply want to climb?

“Well, I can help you if you’d like.”

“You hold me, Mommy.”

“Okay, Devin. Let’s give it a try.”

After a few attempts with me holding him tightly, Devin was willing to try a few baby steps on his own. And then he started taking bigger steps. And then he started jumping off. And then he fell.

And so, I picked him up, gave him a few kisses, and – wouldn’t you know it? – he was at it again!

“In the real world, life is filled with risks… and reasonable risks are essential for children’s healthy development.” — Dr. Joe Frost

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Photo Credit: Erin Goodman

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Category: activities: outdoor, parenting, play


Jeanine Silversmith

about the author ()

Jeanine is a self-described tree hugging, science and math geek whose love of nature, coupled with her absolute certainty that people, especially children, are happier, healthier, and wiser when they regularly spend time in nature, led her to establish Rhode Island Families in Nature. Jeanine also works for the RI Environmental Education Association, supporting formal and informal teachers as they create "place-based" curriculum. She loves to hike, run, garden, bake, and go camping, especially when accompanied by her husband, Ian, her daughter, Sierra, and her son, Devin. They live in Wakefield.

Comments (2)

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  1. Amy Hood amy says:

    We love that climbing thingy! Although we also liked the retro metal spinny thing that was there before, too. (It must have slipped through some wormhole of Municipal Playground Child Safety Over-Regulations for a decade or so.)

  2. Good going, Jeanine! I admire you for being a parent who not only allows, but actually encourages appropriate risk-taking. Yay you!

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