Be Scared And Do It Anyway
Updated: Oct 6
My boy and I thought it would be fun to visit our local fire station. He was sooooo excited about it. When the time came for us to actually go, he was having none of it. I wasn’t surprised by his reaction to be honest, but what surprised me was how for the first time in his life he was able to articulate why he didn’t want to go: ‘new things scare me a lot, mummy’. I can’t explain what hearing those words meant to me. I had thought and assumed the same for a while but hearing it come out of his mouth was kind of a relief.
I took this opportunity to be positive about being scared. I said it was a gift to be cautious and have an imagination with which we can create and invent wonderful things. But I also explained how having a big imagination can sometimes take us to imagine scary things that aren’t always true. I shared a few stories of when that’s happened to me and in the end he said: ‘let’s go!’
You can see in the photos how he’s keeping his distance (I honestly think he was expecting a fire to start any minute!) and he did not want to get anywhere near the equipment. He didn’t want to wear a helmet and I could tell he was generally nervous; his hands were sweaty. But he did it. He came out in one piece, smiling and wanting to do it again. I pray hard he is proud, because my pride really is irrelevant to his learning. PS. Kudos to fireman Tim who was super gentle with him!
Another example of a similar situation took place when our boy finally dared to try rock-climbing. He's always loved physical activities and when he was very little he seemed to be completely fearless. However, he's always been a cautious boy as well and when we was about three he seemed to start getting a little more afraid of some things. I always knew he would love going rock-climbing and when I took him to this place, I could see he was excited; however, he was unsure. We went a few times but he didn't want to give it a go. He later told me he didn't like the idea of having to wear a harness which may sound strange but it actually makes sense as he's sometimes shown sensitivity with fabrics and clothes he wears. I didn't push for ages. One day I said I'd be happy to give it a go with him if he wanted and he liked the idea. I did say it was unsafe to do it without a harness though, so if he wanted to try he had to wear one. It was his choice. He gave a go and that was that, we were both climbing all over the place like monkeys. Obviously, he was a ton better than me!
I find it very difficult to know when to push and when to back off and wait. As parents, we know our children and predict what they will enjoy doing, but sometimes taking a step back and let them grow a little is all the support they need. Joining in and accompanying them in their fear is a strategy that has worked for us as well (sometimes!).