My Addie is a rambunctious little human being. She loves to climb things she shouldn’t, jump on things, barrel down the hill on her bike and anything else that makes my heart go into my throat. Basically, if it makes me want to yell, “No, stop that!” or grab her before she gets too far, she wants to do it. Those moments are when I want to scoop her up and keep her safe and close.
Addie loves to take our Lab down to this spot next to the lock & dam in our town, right on the Mississippi River. She runs around in the big open space, explores the area and practices tossing rocks towards the river, hoping to make it in. She loves to “build fires” out of a pile of sticks and climb the rocks and wave to the barge captains. It’s her happy place.
Today, as I watched her jump from rock to rock, getting further and further away from me I smiled and then tears came to my eyes. The tears were because I desperately wanted to call her back or go hold her hand while she precariously balanced on each rock as she jumped to the next. My heart ached as the desire to keep her safe from a fall or from her getting too far away from me grew. I forced myself to stand there, though, just watching as she happily jumped along. Man; was it rough.
The Importance Of Letting Your Child Play Without You
In these moments I do all I can to stop myself from stopping her as she does her own thing. I make myself watch as she heads towards the other side of the open area, my beautifully free little girl jumping from rock to rock, hair blowing wildly in the wind. Despite the ache in my heart, I allow her these moments because they are what will help her build confidence and the strength to pick herself up if she falls, and eventually, the courage to go out on her own.
As a mom, all you want to do is keep your child safe always. You want to stop them from doing something that you know could cause them to fall. You want to keep them close enough so if they need you, you’re right there and can scoop them up. There’s just one thing wrong with that, that’s not how life is. I want Addie to make mistakes because it is through mistakes that she will learn new things and find her strength. I want her to try new things, even if they scare her because they will give her the courage to always follow her dreams. Most importantly, I want her to know that I trust her.
Giving your child the freedom to play and explore on their own gives them the confidence they need to make mistakes. It also gives them the confidence to try new things despite their fear or the probability of failure. They gain this confidence by being given your trust and by knowing that you will be right there waiting with open arms if they need you. This is why I choke down the ache and glue my feet to the ground because when she turns around at the other end, with a huge smile on her face and a triumphant wave, I know I’m helping her to eventually grow into a strong and fearless adult.
As Addie ran towards me with open arms from the other end of the rocks my heart ached with pride and the hint of sadness. Sadness because I know that one day she will go out on her own and the days of her running back towards me will be over. Until that day comes, though, I will do all I can to help prepare her and give her the confidence to take on the world. I know my heart will ache many more times but as she goes through these moments I will be there, encouraging her and allowing her to do her own thing. So for now, if she falls I will comfort her and then encourage her to try again. I will allow her to run a little farther than I’m comfortable and be there when she turns around.
Why do you think it’s important to let your child play without you? Let me know in the comments below.