This is the first time my wife and I have dealt with a child with a broken bone and it comes with some interesting revelations.
What we learned…
It’s that last revelation I wanted to blog about.
Take a breath. I don’t just show them the door and say good luck. I’m a responsible parent and would never allow my daughters to enter into a truly dangerous situation. It’s my job to keep them safe.
But I don’t helicopter over them or snowplow the path for them.
Research has proven that risk is an essential component of a balanced childhood. Exposure to healthy risk, particularly physical, enables children to experience fear, and learn the strengths and limitations of their own body. Humans are designed to experience a degree of fear, manage it… or they will seek it elsewhere, on the internet or with self-destructive behavior. (Full article here)
Age appropriate outdoors time is key. You can leave primary aged children out of your sight in a safe environment like a garden or backyard. This may lead to a few more cuts and scrapes (or a fractured tibia) and fights with siblings, but it teaches kids how to make risk related decisions for themselves.
Got a firepit? Teach them how to be safe around it while teaching them how to build and light a fire. Near water? Let them explore and climb in streams. Tree or rock climbing? Yes and yes. My job? Manage the risk, make sure it isn’t a truly dangerous situation, and then step back and allow them to make their own decisions. It varies from child to child.
Scrapes, grazes, falls, and panic are normal and our kids need to have their risk-perception muscles developed and flexed. It’s an important part of growing up, figuring out how the world works and how their body works. It builds self confidence, resilience, independence, and can actually reduce the risk of injury in future play.
Instead of telling your daughter not to run so fast or climb so high, take a second (actually the experts recommend 15 seconds) to step back and provide them the opportunity to figure out what they can and can’t do. See how she is reacting to the situation so you can actually get a better sense of what she’s capable of when you’re not getting in the way.
Will I let Daphne back on the trampoline after her leg heals? If shewants to, absolutely. In the meantime, I’ve got some hilarious video to shoot of her trying to steer that tiny wheelchair so we can laugh about it years from now.