Two children carefully placed a black pvc pipe in the holes of our climbing structure and climbed up to sit on it. A younger, smaller friend came along and really wanted to get up too. He tried really, really hard. The two original girls cheered him on, offering possible solutions, but nothing worked. He perched his head atop the pipe for a moment, clearly a little sad, and then gleefully decided to hang by his arms and squeeze his legs through the wooden bars. The other two children laughed along with him.
What would have happened if I had stepped in and "taught" him how to get up?
What could have been more meaningful than an experience like this?
space to feel. I didn't imply that he needed to stop crying or that his crying made me uncomfortable. And soon, he felt better. He got that sadness out and then moved on.
Another child made it up the ladder and to the pipe. The original three started bouncing, and she seemed to feet nervous but didn't say anything... until she felt VERY nervous and started crying. (Note: in the second picture, the crying had just started--the happy look on the girls to the left isn't because of her crying but because they hadn't noticed/comprehended what was happening yet).
This, in my opinion, is the most important work of the young child: navigating emotions of oneself and others. Children thrive when they are free to feel, when their authentic self is accepted and nourished, and when they can figure out together what they need and what works best.
Were you allowed this as a child?