Moms do everything they can to keep their kids safe. However, as children grow from defenseless newborns to defiant toddlers, they grow more reckless and are exposed to more risk. While you can "kid proof" your home to your heart's content, it's impossible to 100 percent protect your kid from every potential accident. Thankfully, however, there are some good reasons for allowing our children to experience an "owie" or two. In fact, there are things your toddler learns when they accidentally hurt themselves, so most accidents truly aren't the end of the world but, instead, a teachable moment.
I have always been a more hands-off parent when it comes to allowing my son to explore the world. I would rather him run and fall, than never run at all. This attitude has earned me some sly looks from other moms on the playground, but it has also given me an adventurous child who is physically active and bold. I think it's a fair trade.
In my humble opinion, parents need to strike a balance between allowing their children enough room to play and jump and roll around, while simultaneously doing their best to aid their child in avoiding serious damage. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that an estimated 12,175 children die each year in the United States from an unintentional injury. No parent wants their child to be hurt or to become a horrifying statistic. However, as long as your child keeps the injuries to nothing more than a few scrapes and bruises, those injuries could become a teachable moment and your toddler could learn the following lessons:
Mom Is Usually Right
How many times have you warned your toddler not to do a particular thing, only to be ignored? Sometimes parenting a little kid can feel like talking to a brick wall.
So, if you told your child not to do something and it ends up hurting them, the lesson may very well be, "Well, I told you so." (Just, you know, try not to say that out loud.
There Are Consequences For My Actions
We've all heard Newton's famous third law:
Children need to learn there are consequences for their actions. For example, if they throw something it might break, and if they do something dangerous they can get hurt.
I Should Be More Careful
Getting injured creates a memory of pain, which can lead children to be a little more cautious next time and when faced with a similar situation or set of choices.
My son was dancing enthusiastically and, as a result, bumped his head on the corner of the wall. Even though this was several months ago, he still pays a little more attention when he rounds that particular corner.
These Are My Limitations
My son has wanted to go on the monkey bars at the park since he could first point at them. However, and to his dismay, he just isn't there yet. His little arms don't quite stretch and he can't quite hold his weight.
When children try and fail at an activity, they don't usually give up. Unlike adults, they persevere, otherwise they would never have learned to walk or talk. So, failing can teach them what their limits are, how to respect them in the moment, and how to expand them in the future.
This Is How My Body Works
Children are naturally more pliable and flexible than adults, but they still need to learn that certain body parts will not bend a certain way. Hurting ourselves shows us just how our bodies work, including that we bleed and heal and break and mend.
Pain Is Temporary
Parents don't want their babies to ever feel pain, but pain is an important lesson. In fact, there are very important evolutionary reasons why human beings experience pain. Those born with serious conditions that limit their ability to feel pain are in constant danger. When we comfort children and tell them, "It will feel better soon" it's because we know it to be true. Pain (from a simple injury that can be healed) is temporary and fleeting.
Mom Can Make Everything Better
When we hold our toddlers as they cry, and comfort them, we are sending them an important message and showing them that we will always be there. They learn that mom is a soft place for them to seek affection and a hug.
I might not want my son to ever be injured, but I know he can learn from the inevitable bumps in life. When he does get hurt, I am teaching him that I will always be there to kiss it all better.