Thursday, May 30, 2013

Encouraging Our Kids

So a couple weekends ago we took the kids to the Children's Museum in Brookings. Can I just! I was so impressed with it!

If you have never been, I highly encourage you to pack up your brood and make the trip. It's not quite as big as I envisioned it to be, but there are oodles of things for the kiddos to do and learn - it will be very easy to make many trips there through the years so the kids can get through it all. You will have fun too, I promise!

It's really tall :)
Anyway, in the old gym of the school they remodeled for this awesome place (my hubby used to go to that school by the way - he was shocked to see it transformed this way ;) ), there is this huge climbing thing. It reaches from the floor to the ceiling of the old gym - so it's really tall - and kids can climb up it. There are these surfboard shaped platforms with nets surrounding them, and the nets create a maze that work all the way up to the ceiling and then down, with many different ways to get to different levels throughout the tower.

Well, Vienna is our little adventurer. It didn't take her long to make her way well over half way up the tower. She was very quick to figure out the best way to go, and she would get half way up and look down at us and wave. She loved it. She didn't want to go up farther than that, though, until her dad offered to go with her. This tower isn't really made for adults, but it's definitely sturdy enough to hold them. He said he just needed to do some funky maneuvers once he got close to the top to make it through :).
She's excited to be over 1/2 way to the top! (white shirt/purple pants)
So, together they went, all the way to the top.

Porter, on the other hand, is not so adventurous. He's always been more reserved with stuff like this. While Vienna loved being thrown around in the air, upside down, etc when she was littler, Porter has never liked it. Vienna is almost getting too big, but she still loves to be swung upside down by her ankles. The other night Randall was swinging her, and Porter was watching with great enjoyment, and you could tell he wanted more than anything to try it.

So, he did.

For about 2 seconds.

Then he got a terrified look on his face and wanted to stop.

So we stopped. But we encouraged him to try it again, this time with me holding onto his hands/arms while Randall swung him by his ankles. He agreed, and did it for a little while, but really seemed scared so we stopped again. After he did it we made a huge deal about how brave he was, what a good job he did, how proud we were that he tried it, etc, etc. But he didn't want to do it again.

So now back to the surfboard tower thingy at the museum.

He was running around playing with other things while Vienna was doing all her climbing. Then he became more interested in the tower. We had gone several places and come back to the tower several times. Each time we were there, he would go up to one of the lowest platforms, acting like he wanted to climb it. We would encourage him to try, but each time he backed off.

Then close to the end of the day he took the plunge. He climbed the lowest platform. Woo hoo!!

After his conquest. He's SO proud of himself!
This was the time that Randall was making his way to the top with Vienna, so I decided to hop on and help out Porter. So, I climbed up a couple. He followed. I went up a few more, and he slowly followed. With encouragement from the ground (Randall's mom was with us) and from above - of course I was cheering him on - he made it up about half way! Yay!!

He then was done and wanted to head back down, but that was a huge victory.

So, as the kids grow older, try new things, and are hesitant about others, we have found that there are different levels of encouraging needed. There are some things that we probably come close to forcing - though it's more like encouraging really strongly. We obviously don't *make* our kids do anything they really don't want to do (except pick up their play room and do the dishes - ha!), but we also don't want them to miss out on something that they might find completely awesome, and we want them to learn to take risks. Heaven knows life is risky, and there are some things that we would completely miss out on if we didn't risk it!

There was no way we would have forced Porter onto the tower. But with some encouragement and a safe place to land (mom's lap if he needed it), he did it!

Not only did he do it, but he wants to go back and do it again! Woot! Both the kids have been asking almost every day when we get to go back there.

"Soon, sweetie. Soon."

It's amazing to me, but this parenting thing gets more complicated the older the kids get, doesn't it? Each child is so different and they need such different things. I just pray that I'm up to the task of giving them what they need when they need it.

Do you have to "strongly encourage" your kids to do things? I'd love to hear your stories!


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