This is a picture of my son when he was 1 year old. He wanted to climb the rock wall at the park – and so we let him! I have learned that if you do not let your child take acceptable risks then they cannot fully grow to their greatest potential. Obviously we would not have let him climb this rock wall without spotting him, but we knew if he fell we would be right there to catch him. We started allowing him to take “safe” risks as soon as he started walking. If we told him not to climb on the couch, and he did, sometimes I would just sit next to him- and as he began to fall off I would not stop him from falling, I would only safely prevent him from hitting the floor. It was a “staged” reaction if you will- but it taught my son the very important lesson of being careful. If my son sees a frog, after making sure it is not poisonous, I let him touch it so he will find out what happens. I want him to explore.
So when my son, who had just turned 3 years old wanted to rock climb at our family reunion this summer- what do you think I told him? SURE! BUT only have making sure he met the minimum safety requirements and had daddy go along next to him. Can you even see him in this picture below? He is all the way up at the top with his daddy.
Children are never too young to start learning, and to start learning the reaction to their efforts. Allow your child to safely take risks. If I always told my son no- you can’t rock climb!- you can’t swim!- you can’t have an earthworm farm!- or whatever the request is, do you think he would ever learn for himself that he really can climb a 40 foot wall without help, or swim without drowning, and learn hands-on (not from a book!) what worms need to eat and how they move? The more you make time for your child, and carefully allow acceptable risks, the more your child will grow and realize that he CAN do things and he CAN learn amazing things that even a book cannot completely capture.