Finding balance between over-caution and letting go ...
When it comes to safety in education, everyone agrees that, as a matter of course, we should protect children from accidents by considering the safety of their bodies and belongings. However, it is a also good idea to ask ourselves the following question: “What kind of protection does my child need?” Formulating this question may perhaps challenge some attitudes, because life itself is a risk — no one can expect to get through it with no accidents.
Accepting the risks of life means letting our child discover the world
It is up to us to teach our children to assess risks without constantly preventing them from facing them. Here again, everything one learns through all the phases of childhood enables us to approach adulthood as a more fully formed person. So what are the risks, the dangers, that we can let our child face and thus grow, feel stronger and therefore more alive? What child, after climbing a little higher up a tree, a steep rock, jumping from just a bit too high, hasn’t said with pride: “Look how strong I am, Mom!”
So how should we react? If we let ourselves be carried away by the initial emotion of worried surprise, there is a strong chance that the child’s joy will soon be overshadowed by our cries of fear in the face of danger (even danger overcome!); and by our indignation in the face of disobedience. Managing to control your initial reaction and praising them for their accomplishment does not mean endorsing disobedience, if there actually is any. But first admiring their performance will then allow you to take stock of the child’s attitude. When the child feels his or her ability has been recognized, they will accept their parents’ lecture about obedience and caution, because these words will no longer be those coming out of wounded emotions, but from an educator who wants to make them grow.
Accepting the risks of life means letting your child discover the world, making it his or her own. In early childhood, this discovery is made through touching with hands and mouth, and it’s fun to see how passionate the child sitting in the middle of a gravel path will be, tasting the rocks one by one, spitting them out just as conscientiously. Is it really so dangerous to let them taste these pebbles, if you watch them carefully out of the corner of your eye? Why get annoyed by trying in vain to stop them? If you are worried about the stairs in the house, teach your child to crawl down them properly on all fours, backwards, at a very early age. This will help prevent older children from being responsible for a safety gate left open. This enables you to change the site of conflict into a place of learning and pride.
Inès de Franclieu