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This blog post is in partnership and sponsored by Aptamil Toddler
I am a mum to three little boys aged 7,4 and 2. Three busy, loud, active boys. I’m normally met with exclamations of “oh, you must be busy!”, “so much noise!”, “I bet they are non stop!”.
All three boys have very different personalities. The stereotypes of boys tend to be “rough, loud, full on” and to an extent, my boys show a lot of these traits. But they are so much more than just “rough boys”. They are inquisitive, intelligent, brave, empathetic, resilient, and I strive to put them in situations that challenge these skills and help them grow.
2020 - Unprecedented Times
During my parenting journey across the past 7 years, I’ve learnt a few tips that help guide our days and weeks to keep my three boys active, supported and challenged in their growth. COVID-19 really messed with a lot of my tried and tested routines, so we learnt to mix things up, roll with the times and come out smiling (well, most of the time!)
Preschool and school were closed, but we learnt to adapt and play games using household items as obstacle courses (and so many games of the ‘floor is lava’!), free YouTube dance, yoga and art videos, and we immersed ourselves in the local bush on hikes and explorations. Our favourite adventure was to pack our morning tea, a pencil and a book each and walk into the bush, drawing what we found; and we’ve continued this now lockdown has ended. We loved watching a then, 1 year old Teddy, discover the animals and natural objects around us. I was initially surprised at how much he gained from these adventures at such a young age, but witnessed how he would naturally risk take and explore on his own.
We all want to save our kids from the challenges they face, we don’t want them to struggle, but while we are swooping in to fight every battle, and solve every problem, we aren’t allowing them to develop real life skills and the resilience needed to try hard things.
A common phrase in our house is, “This is hard, and I can do hard things”. I can see the kid’s confidence soar as they repeat this mantra and have us agree with them. Whether it’s separating from me, climbing a tree or riding their bikes without training wheels, it’s a tool that works so well. As leading parenting expert, Dr Justin Coulson (PhD) says, stress is a normal part of life, but by being there for them and compassionately recognising their struggles, we can help them learn and develop the tools they need to cope.
Healthy Risk Taking
Outdoor play is a simple and fun way to engage in some risky play. By risk taking, kids learn that dirt doesn’t taste nice, that ants can bite and that running on gravel is slippery.
They will get hurt, they will fall, but they will learn and their confidence will soar. They will find new ways to navigate tricky situations (i.e.- to slow down when balancing on fallen tree logs) and their self-esteem will boost with every successful attempt. Risky play teaches them how to be resourceful, creative and the lesson of consequences. If we hover too close, or stop them from trying new things, we are stopping them achieving the confidence and resilience they need as they face the world.
These activities help to build competence and capability. They teach them how to be resourceful and creative. It also helps children learn about consequences.
It’s been a tricky year.
We’ve tried to adapt, to show resilience and to slow down; to learn about the boy’s personalities and interests while we find new ways to explore the world around us. Traditional activities and structured classes and groups may be unavailable, but we can still give our children the opportunity to adventure out and strengthen skills along the way. For more tips on adventuring out, and building resilience in your children, check out Parents’ Corner and advice from Dr Justin Coulson (PhD) on the Aptamil Toddler Website.