What does it mean for a child to “do dangerous things carefully?”
This refers to when your child is figuring out an obstacle on their own. Maybe your toddler is trying to get on the counter to get their sippy cup and you’re not around. So they push the chair over to the counter to leverage them up, then they wedge their little toes into the handle to get up just enough to get their leg on the counter. Ta-da, they’re on the counter, got their sippy cup and so they’re proud of themselves!
Now, in your mind, they were being unsafe. They didn’t know the dangers of what they’re doing. What if they slip and hit their head? What if they break something? What are they doing? So you insert yourself into their autonomy journey…but instead of helping them, you just set them back in development.
You can’t interfere when they are doing dangerous things carefully.
That’s such an organic place where kids learn.
Learning comes with failure. Say they didn’t make it up onto the counter that time, do you think that is going to stop them? Or do you think they’ll try it again?
They’re going to try again because it’s building their self-confidence. Your child has a burning desire to do things on their own.
There is a difference between doing things carefully and doing things that are a hazard and a severe safety issue. In parenting 90% of the things your toddler is going to attempt, are because they are trying to figure out how to do something autonomously. Typically, this is not a huge safety hazard.
You would be AMAZED at how capable your toddler is!
When parents constantly interfere when toddlers are trying to navigate situations, it starts to demean their ability to be curious and confident.
When you step in, it is subconsciously telling them, “you can’t” ,“you’re not able to”
I tell parents, if they can get up, they can get down. The getting down may not be as graceful as the getting up but they do know how to get down. That’s part of learning and that is part of building their confidence.
So try this the next time you’re inclined to jump in to help your toddler:
Stand close and just observe, be ready in case something goes south, but do not interfere unless absolutely necessary.
When they achieve whatever it was they were trying to do, give them an acknowledgment.
“WOW, you worked really hard to (fill in blank) you should be so proud of yourself!”
I can 100% relate to how you as a parent just want to protect your child from getting hurt but we live in a world of hurt. And I don’t mean that to be so heavy, I mean that as in, your child will get owies, heartbroken, broken bones, failed attempts at things, etc.
You CAN NOT protect them from everything. And they HAVE to be able to go through that hurt in order to LEARN & GROW.