The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Enid Features

October 4, 2013

It’s OK to let your kids fall and let them make mistakes

It seems parents these days will go to any length to ensure their children are protected. Crawling helmets have just hit the market. Helicopter parents everywhere are beside themselves with excitement. Finally, an answer to the dangerous and potentially hazardous world of crawling!

Based on this trend, it is predicted the number of wedgies will rise to mammoth proportions over the next 10 years. Everyone is trying to navigate their way through the world, with the least amount of bumps and bruises as possible. We can wrap our children in bubble wrap and crawling helmets, but we would be depriving our children of the opportunity to learn how to fall.

Falling is an important developmental milestone, and is the building block for all the future struggles we will face in this life. Hopefully, our children have fallen a few times before the first time someone takes their dump truck in the sandbox, or their boyfriend breaks up with them on Facebook.

But, nobody ever says, “Wow, that fall was amazing! Your face really stuck that landing.” It’s when we fall really hard — with snot and dirt running down our face and we choose to get up and keep going — that we really ever learn anything at all.

It’s those kind of moments that develop courage. My mom tried to instill a whole lot of courage in me when I was a kid.

That’s why she always sent me to school on picture day with permed bangs and glasses with oversized pink frames. She thought it would also help to dress my sister, my cousin and me in matching homemade outfits. We could easily be spotted in any department store or any public event we ever attended.

If it wasn’t for my cousin being brown, and four inches shorter, you would have thought we were triplets. We also never wore helmets or even seat belts.

My mom’s station wagon was a free-for-all. Climbing over and under the seats was like an Olympic event. Looking back, protective equipment would have been nice for all those times she reached around the front seat to spank me with her free hand.  

So, the point is, let your kids fall. Let them make mistakes.

But give them lots of encouragement along the way. They need it more than anything.

We don’t need a society full of people who are afraid of getting their feelings hurt, who are afraid to take risks. Trying to make everybody happy is what got us in this mess we’re in.

So, when you watch your baby fall down for the first time, or your child forgets their lunch, or they lose their math homework, smile — because you’re doing something right.

“For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.” — Proverbs 24:16

Follow Sarah Thompson, who is a social worker in the Enid area, on Facebook: mongrace or email her:

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