When you see your child fall, it’s near impossible to keep sitting and not move at all. The gush of worry and pain within the caregiver is real, too. Even if it’s a fall that’s not that bad. We could keep a few things in mind when that happens though.
It’s not your fault. Relax.
The usual first response is usually of guilt. Maybe you were talking to another parent in the park when your child fell. Maybe you were on a phone call with a friend. Maybe you were just browsing on Amazon. The fall of your child is not your fault. That’s natural. You know your child and you thought the child can be truly left alone for a while. The child was fine till the moment that she fell down, right?
Falling just happens. And it’s okay. It’s a great way to learn. And it’s certainly not your fault. Knowing this will help you feel calmer and help you respond rather than react.
Let the child guide you, just be present
What we could do, rather than taking control of the situation is, rush to the child if we feel like it and wait. I usually prefer to ask a question, “Are you hurt?” and if the answer is yes, then “where are you hurt? Could you please show me?” Once he tells me where it is hurting I take it from there.
I usually ask my son “what do you want to do?” Or “how do you want me to take care of you?” And since I have been asking this question to him for a while, he is surprisingly accurate and expressive about how he prefers the situation handled. (He can even name medicines that he needs and most beautifully, many a times he says “it will just heal itself.” And runs off.)
Opportunity for the Toddler to Learn About Herself
The purpose of responding to falls is to turn the attention of the child inward and to acknowledge what the child is going through. What this potentially does is places trust in the child. It tells the child that “you know what’s happening to you.” It allows him to see the situation as is.
I am surprised by how often my son says “No” or “A little” to the question “Are you hurt?” and just moves on. And not just moves on, he goes right back to where he fell and does whatever he was doing with even more focus.
All We Need Is Love
I usually give my son a hug and just hold him close while he is going through the bout of crying and I usually speak words such as “It feels so good to cry when you are hurt, isn’t it?” or my favourite is to just be silent. I just do whatever that comes to me to show him that I trust him and to acknowledge his hurt and feelings.
- Ditch the guilt about the child’s fall
- Understand that falling and pain that ensues have a developmental purpose
- During the time of pain, let the child lead and just be present to where she is leading you
- Encourage expression of the pain
- Do nothing that belittles pain, distracts the child or takes the attention away from the pain.
- The more you tend to the pain the earlier it goes away and the more it teaches
Responding this way to a child’s fall, makes them more and more aware of their bodily and emotional being and that leads to a calmer, careful and vigilant child – leading to lesser falls.
How do you respond to the children’s falls? What has worked for you? What has not worked for you? Please share in comments below.
A Chartered Accountant by chance and a school teacher by choice, Aditya is an AMI Montessori trained guide. He owes his parenting philosophy and values to Dr Maria Montessori, Magda Gerber & Janet Lansbury and tenets of Buddhist philosophy; though he believes that his most insightful parenting moments have come with his kindest teacher – his two year old son.
Helping parents and being a school-teacher are his ways of bringing more respect, choice and freedom to children.