The article “Building Resilience in Children” by Bonny McClain, talks about using the seven “C”s by Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg to build your child’s resilience. In this article they are referring to helping kids and teens to develop the strength and skills that they can use to recover from hardships and prepare for future challenges. Although this article is mainly talking about stress and the challenges we are all faced with on a day to day basis as we continue to grow, I realized that resilience can also be an important trait to have when developing gross motor skills. When I talk about gross motor skills I am referring to not only rolling, crawling, walking, jumping, but also learning sports, new skills (like riding a bike), playing on the playground, etc.
Navigating their way through gross motor development can be a challenging time for growing kids. Each child reacts differently to learning new skills. The youngest ones may not even realize how they are reacting. There are many times that I am teaching kids to perform a new skill and they will get frustrated or give up after a perceived ‘failure’. Just imagine if a child gave up learning how to walk after they fall for the first time. If we all did that, the world would be full of people who crawled to get around! Teaching your kids to ‘brush it off’ after a fall can help them to learn how to get back on their feet again and keep trying.
You can help your child to develop resiliency with gross motor development in a few different ways. When they are learning a new skill and get frustrated or suffer a set back focus on what they did, not what they didn’t do. Encourage them to try again, and give them some support as they do, whether its a little bit of hands on assist or talking them through it. For example, when a child is learning to walk and they fall the first time, they may want to cry and stay on the floor. Instead of making a big deal about them crying, congratulate them on what they did and help them get back up again. This time when they go to take a step, maybe move the target closer or hold the back of their pants or even give them a finger to hold onto. Allow them to have a little success. Also know when to redirect. If continuing with the task is beginning to bring on a meltdown change something up. For example rather than having them walk between two support surfaces, have them sit down on a stool and attempt to stand up to the target support surface.
This may all seem simple but that may be all it takes to help your child develop resiliency that can support them not only in their gross motor development but also dealing with challenges later in life. A kids who can bounce back from a fall should in theory have an easier time bouncing back from non-physical stresses or challenges that they will face as they continue to grow. As much as we may want to protect our children, surrounding them with bubble wrap (physically or emotionally) is not always the answer, rather teaching them the tools early in life will be most beneficial. In other words, help your child to ‘get back on the horse that threw them‘!
Lastly, developing resilience is a unique experience for each family and child, so use your knowledge of your child to guide them on their journey. I have a feeling it will be lifelong!