The girls are intent on their project. The blocks are cumbersome and heavy but they are determined. Despite the restrictions of the princess gowns some are wearing they stack the blocks higher and higher. “What are you building?” I ask. ” A princess tower” they respond. Of course, what else would princesses build?
Once the blocks are arranged to the mutual satisfaction of all the princesses, they begin to climb. But the blocks are unsteady, wobbly, and princess dresses get in the way. Princess shoes add to the challenge. As Kayla climbs she holds out her hand to me to steady herself …..but I keep my hands at my sides and back away. It’s hard to back away from a kid asking for help, it doesn’t come naturally. I really do want to help, and I love holding kid’s hands and will usually grab the opportunity (pun intended!)
But I have been watching kids take risks, riding bikes down a ramp, climbing up the slide, jumping to reach the overhead ladder on the outdoor climber, and I’ve observed that kids will judge risk pretty well when left on their own. Most kids will only try what they feel comfortable trying.
The oh-so-wise Deb Curtis observes: ” I have discovered that the children usually pursue only the challenges that are within their abilities, using caution and remarkable problem-solving strategies. I have come to see that if I stay close to intervene if necessary, observe to get to know individual children’s dispositions and skills, I can make sure I keep them safe while supporting their instinctive drive to challenge themselves and gain new competence. There is great reward in watching the children’s unwavering determination and seeing their elated faces when they accomplish something they have worked so hard on.”
And the princesses made it to the top of their tower, high heels and all.