Alex is a very active boy. He runs like a leopard, climbs like a monkey and hops like a kangaroo =D I guess, that is how he discovers and learns about how his body works, eg. balance, flexibility, strength, etc.
During his learning process, I found it impossible to prevent him from falling. He has experienced falls, bruises, and scratches countless times.
But instead of stopping or discouraging him to explore the world around him, I choose to take this opportunity to teach him a lesson that I hope will be useful for him for his life time.
“It’s OK if you fall or fail, just remember to get back up and move on.”
At his age, he might not be able to understand and fully grasp the message yet. But at least, there are few things that I can do to teach him about how he should deal with falls and failures in life.
Few things that I learn and practice whenever he falls:
- Keep calm and do not give him a shocked-looking face.
I noticed that he is very much affected by my reaction. He cried louder and longer if I showed him my shocked-looking face, but he’ll get up and continue playing if I keep myself cool and calm.
At first, it was hard on me. Especially when he was younger and just started to walk, sometimes I found myself shrieked unconsciously and ran to him immediately when he fell. But then I realized that I just made things worse for him and caused him to be panic without any good reason.
By being calm, I want him to know that it is OK if he falls or fails. It is not a big deal. Everyone experiences them in life.
- Approach and comfort him, if needed.
I need to be cool and calm, but at the same time I do not want him to get the impression that I do not care for him when he is in pain.
Normally I will say “Ouch!” or “Uh Oh!” when he tripped and fell. Most of the time, he does not need me to approach and comfort him. He will get up by himself and continue walking. But sometimes he needs more care and attention.
There was one incident where he fell on the ground and cried. I thought that he was just being a ‘cry baby’ and trying to get my attention. So I kept myself cool (really cool indeed) and reluctantly said “It’s OK. Stop crying.” But few hours later, I found some deep scratches and wounds on his arms. I felt so bad. I then learnt that I should comfort him and show my empathy when he cries after falling down.
In those cases, usually I will approach him, carry him up and say some comforting words, like “It’s OK, mommy is here. Where is the pain?”
By doing this, I hope that he’ll get the message that he is not alone when he is in pain. There will always be someone (parents, siblings, friends) and God who love and care for him.
- Encourage him to continue his activity again after he settled down.
I try not to comfort and hold him for too long. Usually I will suggest and gently encourage him to continue walking or playing after he calmed down.
I want him to know that it is OK to cry when you feel pain, but it is not OK if you cry over it for too long, become self-pity and then do nothing at the end.
My prayer is that he will grow stronger physically, mentally and spiritually. To be a man who does not afraid of failure, a man who will not let himself be defeated by failures.