Cameron and I get up to some pretty fun adventures, and I do my best to teach him to live life seeking them out. However, he can be a pretty cautious child at times. Things that scare him, naturally, no WAY will he even try them. He’ll try with help perhaps. But if he isn’t certain that he can do something without falling, he’ll wait until he is. Sometimes it takes a slow introduction – like noisy places or bright flashy things – but sometimes it seems even that wouldn’t help. (and don’t misunderstand me … I can see the benefits to having a child who won’t dive headfirst into dangerous games)
Take the playground, for instance. You know those stepping-stones that are hanging on poles, swinging a little? Typical for Cameron he would try them, but as soon as one swung a little differently than expected he would be off, nonchalantly claiming he’d had enough. Or he’d just simply cling to the one he was on, and claim he’d gone far enough, he just wanted to stay right there.
I’ve learned that pushing usually leads to tears and me carrying Cameron, instead of him happily trying to jump down from a rock a little higher than he’s used to. So I let him do his thing. I demonstrate and cheer him on, but no pushing.
This last weekend I tried a new tactic.
“Cameron, when you’re afraid to do something that you know you can do, just yell as loud as you can: I CAN DO IT! Then you just do it.” I demonstrated. He looked at me like I was nuts, of course. I persuaded him to try yelling it, and he half-heartedly repeated the phrase. “Nah, you’ve got to yell it to make it work!” I demonstrated again. So he yelled, flinging his hands up in the air. We repeated this a few times, until he finally took the step he was afraid to do!
In one short session of affirmations, he went from half-way doing the swinging steps, insisting on holding my hand on another part that scared him, and outright refusing the curvy ladder – to running through the whole thing by himself.
And now we’re home. For one week I didn’t have to worry about laundry or cooking or shopping or even really cleaning up. Selfishly, I still don’t feel like I got a big break, but I’m trying to remind myself that I really did. Spending the first half of the trip coughing and hacking and feeling awful I’m sure doesn’t help. But now I do have to get supper on the table. I do have to do the tidying, the laundry, the cooking, the cleaning. I’ve got to get us out the door in the morning. And I just feel like crying. It’s overwhelming. It’s scary. So I’m giving myself tonight to feel sorry for myself, then tomorrow I start reminding myself: I can do it!