When a baby is born, he is not developmentally ready to walk. One day, he reaches an age where he is, except that he is not, because he is never done it before. He is ready developmentally, but not experientially.
This is when we encourage the baby. We hold his hands and walk with him, up and down the hallway countless times. One day, he scoots over to a coffee table on his own volition. He slowly stands, with pudgy fingers cling tightly to the table, struggling to find balance. Eventually after a few wobbly moments, he let go. He takes a few tentative steps and falls.
Now, think about what we do when he falls. Do we shake our heads disapprovingly and say, “What is wrong with you! Why are you acting like that?” Do we rescue him and insist that he should never try walking again with our help? No. Of course not.
We celebrate the steps forward with claps and encouraging words. We celebrate that he is slowly becoming a child who can walk on his own and. This baby, who was once unable to walk, is now ready (developmentally not experientially). We celebrate his experiments. We celebrate his efforts and his risk-taking. We encourage these things because we know he needs these experiences to eventually stopped falling and start walking with confidence.
Preteens, much like toddlers, are developmentally ready to use new functions but they don’t have the experience to know how to use these functions well. Many of us find it harder to respond with claps and encouraging words to preteens as they take risks because they aren’t just taking stumbling steps and falling on the carpet.Continue reading “Intentionally Supporting Our Preteens”