I have always strived to be a calm parent, even before I had kids. The kind of mother that doesn’t jump up in reaction to a seemingly small, skinned knee. A mother who is not reactionary, but is responsive. I’ve read books about it that probably engrained this into my personality even more than it already was (this one and this one are two of my absolute favorite).

From these books, and my little experience, I am always observing out of the corner of my eye when my kids are exploring. But I give them their space to make their own decisions and take their own risks. If they have a short fall that I can tell they are not seriously hurt, I watch in my peripheral vision how they react. I check to see: what are they going do, how do they feel about this. But I do not give them eye contact and I try to keep my expression as neutral as possible. Wait why? Because once they see me watching and read my face, it allows them to think “Mom is really focused in on me, this means it’s a really big deal so I’m gonna cry about it”. If it does hurt and is a big deal, they are going to cry no matter if I am looking at them or not. But most of the time, I see them look right at me, I give them no reaction, and they stand back up and continue playing.

I prefer responding to small bumps and bruises this way because it gives them the choice and opportunity to decide on their own how they feel about the situation. I stay neutral and let them decide their own feelings. (If they run to me crying, I of course validate their feelings and help comfort them. I promise I’m not completely emotionless, ha.)

When it comes to reasonable risk-taking, I avoid barging in as much as possible. I never want her to feel bound by the limitations I set on her. Of course, we have set certain rules that need to be followed. If she’s doing something that pushes her but makes me nervous, that is my problem, not hers. She will only get stronger, more skilled, and more talented as she trains her body and intuition. A child’s instinct is much better than we give them credit for. And time and time again, she shows me that she knows when her body isn’t capable and she will back off or ask for help. (This is obviously my own experience with my kids. Every kid is different.)

I sit close by to pick her up when she needs picking up, but more often than not, I watch in awe at the skills she has learned and the problems she solves on her own.

Climb high my little girl.