As parents of three children, Ninon and I choose to encourage rather than forbid. That is, to explain and support when necessary. For most of us, this is a real exercise. In a way, we have to forget what we have been taught and tend to reproduce mechanically, without taking the time to think.
In this article, I’m going to focus on physical explorations and this inclination that children have to climb everywhere and everything in their path.
Let them Climb
Why is letting your child climb trees a good thing? Simply because allowing a child to explore their possibilities, understand the risks around them and learn to control them as much as possible is a great idea. Don’t think that our hearts as parents never clench when we see them undertaking perilous things that require attention and concentration. But we know that they are intelligent and attentive beings. They will quickly learn to know their limits if we confidently accompany them in their explorations.
That’s how, at just two years old, our youngest child asked to climb a tree, like his older brother. At the time, we could have answered: “not yet, you are too small, later…”. Such a rejection would have made no sense, would have had no legitimacy. So we chose to encourage rather than forbid. And it’s great to see a child’s ability to adapt naturally and evolve quickly.
A natural disposition
Children climb naturally. They often know how to climb before they can even walk. They climb to explore, discover new things and understand their environment. This is how our little man started climbing very early. I often found him perched on the top of a table, on his little wooden kitchen, on a bed… Why then deprive him of this natural inclination, of this ability that he already mastered and sought to expand?
Climbing a tree not only satisfies a child’s natural desire to climb, but also provides a healthy exercise for the body and mind. They develop agility, physical strength and problem-solving skills. They also learn to relax, take their time, work as a team and work safely. At any age, growing with confidence is inspiring and magical. At 8 years old, my daughter was scared to death of holding onto monkey bars. But after some positive encouragement and guidance from another little girl, she was able to take the plunge into the unknown. She gained confidence and felt immense pride in overcoming her fear. Now, every time she sees monkey bars, she runs straight to them and has fun.
If the desire to continue and try is there, there is no point in stopping it. On the contrary, a child surrounded by calm, kindness and assurance will easily gain self-confidence. There is no hurry, it is by doing that we progress. On the other hand, by communicating our own fears or apprehensions, we risk slowing down and sometimes even stopping their desire to progress. Our main role as educators is to inspire confidence, to encourage rather than forbid.
Learn to fail and carry on
It is obvious to me that climbing is a meaningful activity that requires patience and will. The will to try even if you may fail. It is an excellent exercise to prepare for life, by confronting problems never encountered before, while telling oneself that nothing is lost by trying to solve them.
By guiding our children, every day, in their exploration of the environment and of themselves, we help them to have a positive attitude towards learning and develop their curiosity, enthusiasm, perseverance, self-confidence and risk-taking skills.
What do you think, are you ready to encourage rather than to forbid?