Lessons Learned from a Ladder

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When you have a handy husband, you have ladders.  Sometimes those ladders get used and left out and your toddler becomes fascinated with them.

When we arrived home the other day I noticed my husband had left a ladder out underneath the pergola.  The babe and I emerged from the car and headed to the yard for some outdoor play.  I scanned the yard looking for signs of foul play and oddities. I couldn’t figure out why the ladder was in that spot underneath the pergola and it took me a moment to deduce what was different.  “Oh,” I thought relieved to have found my answer.  My husband had moved a metal cow skull from the pergola to his workshop.

When my gaze turned back to the pergola and the ladder I realized my child had decided to take advantage of my 30-second distraction and was making his way to the top of the climbing apparatus.  My adrenaline kicked up a notch and my first maternal instinct was to rip him off the ladder and knock the equipment to the ground so he couldn’t climb to the top and fall off.  I pushed those thoughts aside and opted for method number two.  I took a picture to show my husband what mischief the child was making and followed him up the ladder to provide him a buffer between himself, the ground and the possibility of a fall. When we parent our primal protective instincts can overwhelm us to try to shield our children from any and all dangerous situations they may encounter.  While this is a good inclination to possess, I think more often than not we go overboard listening to our instincts and forget that our tiny humans were created to learn and explore.  I knew straight away that my determined child would not stop until he had climbed the ladder, so instead of fighting him on the issue I let him climb while remaining a short distance away in case he needed help at some point during his new adventure.  After he reached the peak of the ladder and had his fill of playing with the tiny lights that were now in his reach he decided he wanted to come down.  He more or less turned around and practically jumped on top of me.

When we parent our primal protective instincts can overwhelm us to try to shield our children from any and all dangerous situations they may encounter.  While this is a good inclination to possess, I think more often than not we go overboard listening to our instincts and forget that our tiny humans were created to learn and explore.  I knew straight away that my determined child would not stop until he had climbed the ladder, so instead of fighting him on the issue I let him climb while remaining a short distance away in case he needed help at some point during his new adventure.  After he reached the peak of the ladder and had his fill of playing with the tiny lights that were now in his reach he decided he wanted to come down.  He more or less turned around and practically jumped on top of me so I’m glad I had taken up position a few rungs behind him.  I turned him back around and taught him the proper way to come down the ladder, one rung at a time, slowly and carefully.

We need to remember in parenting that letting our children make mistakes  and fall down and get up are all integral parts of their learning process.  We have to let them try things so they might fail things so we may teach them how to cope when they fail at things.  Or we have to let them try things to succeed at things so that we can share in their triumph  and foster their independence that, yes, they can do things on their own.

Your challenge for this week is to allow your child do something that you find somewhat terrifying.  Stay close in case they need you but let them complete whatever task or adventure on their own. If you aren’t one to just stand around feel free to join in the fun, but remember you are playing beside them, not interrupting their independence.

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